Smart locks: the next big thing in technology
Smart locks are door locks that grant or revoke access instantly via virtual “keys.” You no longer have to keep track of keys or codes; you can manage access from your smartphone or computer. They work independent from your wireless or phone networks, so if you lose power you do not have to worry (they have their own standard battery power).
Reliable Bluetooth technology syncs your phone directly with your smart lock giving you features like walking up to the door, having it sense your presence and automatically unlocking. All of these smart locks offer the user a log of activity, so you can easily see who has accessed your home/office and when. And in the case of the Goji, you can also view a picture of who has been at the door (this could be especially helpful for higher security areas, or classified information access).
The most common uses are shared work spaces; think conference rooms, break rooms and even server rooms. But, they are also being used at home.
Currently, there are four primary smart locks being offered: Lockitron, August, Goji, and UniKey.
Lockitron can instantly grant or revoke access wirelessly, thus making the use of keys obsolete, if you so desire. But, you can still use a key with this device. Lockitron actually fits OVER the existing deadbolt, and you do not have to remove any of the hardware, like you do with August. All you have to do is loosen the deadbolt screws and slide the back plate on, retighten the screws, twist on Lockitron and you are ready to go.
It will work with any phone. Smartphones can use the website/app, and older phone can use through text message commands. Lockitron also has built-in WiFi and iPhone 4S and 5 users can enable Bluetooth “Sense” so that when you walk up to the door, it will unlock for you. Batteries in Lockitron last for a year and the device will send you a notification when they are running low, so you never have to worry about being without power. It is also customizable through API endpoints. You can preorder one now for $179, and receive in the “summer of 2013.
August smart locks are compatible with iPhone, Andriod (with Blackberry) and coming soon, Windows 8. To use August, you must download the mobile app, so older phones will not be able to use these locks. Their web site states, “the August smart lock is designed to be compatible with over 90% of deadbolts,” but they suggest you send them a picture of both sides of the lock to be sure.
It also looks like you cannot use physical keys with this lock or manage it from the computer; it is a mobile managed only lock. You can preorder this lock for $199.
UniKey is unique in that it offers a touch-to-open technology. When it detects via your phone or key fob, that you are near, all you do it touch the lock and it automatically opens. However, it is perhaps the most limited, phone wise. It only supports iPhone 4s and 5, but it is makes up for this by offering a key fob.
Included with the purchase of the smart lock is a Kevo Fob, which offers the same touch-to-open technology. If the fob is in your pocket or purse, simply touch the lock and it will unlock. You can also purchase additional fobs for children or just as an extra in case one is lost. The UniKey is available for preorder through the sign-up link, but no price is stated, as of yet.
Goji is perhaps the most innovative of the group, mostly because they have incorporated a camera in to their smart lock. When someone approaches the door, the Goji snaps a picture and sends it to your phone (and activity log) for added security. For restricted areas, this could be invaluable. For example, if someone came in to possession of a key or phone, they should not have, you could use the camera as another layer of security to make sure certain individuals stay restricted. Currently it works with iPhone and Android, but “new versions will be released to cover the widest spectrum of phones possible.”
Goji also comes with two programmable key fobs in case you do not have a smartphone. You also get two mechanical keys to you as backups, in case you lock yourself out. The Goji is also unique in its design. It is still DIY for the install, but, it greets you with a custom message on the outside of the door. It displays the time and “Hello Your Name Here.” It also displays “Goodbye” when you leave. You can order now from Indigogo for $278 (which includes 24/7 customer service) and it will ship December 2013.
All of these locks serve the same basic function: creating an easier way for you to access your door. And with technology constantly changing and improving, it will be interesting to see what updates the smart lock will incorporate in the future.