I’m anxiously holding my breath for the Lockitron.  It’s a cheap solution that will add an iPhone controllable deadbolt to my front door.  And best of all, it doesn’t require me to remove the entire lock and install a brand new system.  It simply fits over the existing deadbolt and by way of a motorized mechanism can unlock your front door with the push of a virtual button using the company’s accompanying app.   However, the Lockitron may not be for you and the alternative could quite possibly be the SimpliciKey.  Confusing name aside, the product is relatively simple, at least according to my experience at CES last week.

Unlike the Lockitron, the SimpliciKey will require you to replace the entire door lock with their system.  But with that caveat comes a backlit keypad that can accommodate up to 16 user codes and a key fob that unlocks and locks the door much like your garage door remote.  The key fob works directly with the SimpliciKey deadbolt, though to use the company’s iOS app you’ll need to plug a proprietary box into your home’s router.   I was told by SimpliciKey reps there is no physical setup and that the box will work with other products, such as an outlet box much like Belkin’s WeMo outlet.  Unfortunately, the app can only be used by the primary users and can’t be shared amongst visiting guests – Lockitron can do this.  SimpliciKey says that the key fob will work from up to 50-feet away, though that’s probably without a hindered line of sight, and I can only assume that the iOS and Android apps will work from anywhere, provided you’ve got an internet connection.

The locking mechanism is relatively fluid and seemed to work without hesitation, at least when using the key fob. Unfortunately, I wasn’t offered the opportunity to play with the iOS app on the company’s iPad, but it looked relatively straight forward.  The keypad can be programmed with 16 user codes, so instead of sharing the key fob, or access via an iOS app (like Lockitron) you can simply program a set of codes, share those, and then deactivate them as need be.  Or simply just leave the codes intact and share them with a trusted individual instead of cutting a separate, physical key.

Battery life on the SimpliciKey system is a reported one year, where upon an LED will begin to blink and you’ll have to install four new AA batteries.  Needless to say, your mileage will vary slightly with use, but I assume this figure is based on the average household coming and going.  That in mind, a physical and traditional latch is still present on the inside of the door, which doesn’t use any battery power.   If the batteries do die, you can still enter using a physical key, assuming you remember to keep one on you at all times.  Unfortunately, there is no proximity sensor to automatically unlock the SimpliciKey – Lockitron does this using Bluetooth 4.0 – but the iOS app will be close enough for many.

Although I didn’t use the iOS app directly, I did get an eyes on.  Door locking and unlocking occurs via a virtual key fob, like the one pictured above.  I didn’t get to experience how challenging it was to add new devices to the SimpliciKey network, so unfortunately I can’t comment on that.  Nor can I remark on their wireless switch device, though it’s presumably comparable to that of Belkin’s offering in terms of features and functionality.

The SimpliciKey is available now, though the added functionality, which includes the wireless switch and iOS app control, won’t hit stores until the end of Q1 or the beginning of Q2.  SimpliciKey says they’ll offer a bundle that will include a wireless box and possibly even a wireless switch for about $700, though they didn’t have any specific pricing confirmed when asked.

Christen Costa

Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."