The traditional home key and lock system isn’t going any where, at least not any time soon. But now, thanks to crowd funding campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, the once simple concept is being eschewed. And the result is something called the smart lock.
Most smart locks function like a tradition home dead bolt. But instead of the physical key being the only means of unlocking (or locking) the door, the deadbolt can be controlled using a smartphone.
In the last, call it 12-24 months, we’ve seen the smart lock space become fragmented with entrants ranging from the simple Lockitron which fits over your existing hardware, to the likes of the Kevo from Shark Tank fame. So which smart lock is right for you?
The August sure is pretty. But we all know better then to judge a book by its cover. Much like many other smart locks, there is some hardware replacement, and it would seem that you ‘ll need an existing complementary deadbolt setup for it to work. Like the Kevo, the August works over Bluetooth and runs on a set of batteries. So, needless to say, it will operate even when the power is down – just remember to replace the batteries periodically. If the batteries do die, the included traditional key will continue to work. That all said, the August can sense when your close and automatically unlock your door, and you can limit access to users based on the time of day.
Price: $200 (preorder)
- Works over Bluetooth
- Can restrict user access based on time
- Proximity unlock when you approach
- No WiFi connectivity=no remote unlocking
- Battery on your phone dies or on the lock and you better have a key some where
The Kevo is currently installed in my home’s front door so I can speak to this lock based on a first hand experience. Like the August, the Kevo is limited to Bluetooth, though its founder, Phil Dumas, told me yesterday that the they’ll soon release a piece of hardware that will connect it to your home’s router – this means it will be capable of remote unlocking any where in the world. The app is currently a bit convoluted, Ekeys are $1.99 and non-transferable, and it only works with the iPhone 4s or later. That said, it’s easy to install and unlocks when you touch the outside portion of the deadbolt.
Price: $199 (available now)
- Easy to install
- Touch the lock to open
- Proximity sensor determines when the you (the phone) is inside so someone can’t access the lock
- 1 year battery life (speculative)
- Only works with the iPhone 4s or later (for now)
- No WiFi/remote unlock option (for now)
- Ekeys are $1.99 each and non-transferable (for now)
The Lockitron arguably blazed the trail for the other smart locks since it was one of the first to be announced. However, it has yet to ship to consumers, leaving many to wonder what’s the hold up. But if all goes well, and they work out whatever kinks they’re facing, the Lockitron is perhaps the easiest to install as it fits, yes fits over existing deadbolt hardware; it’s effectively a robotic hand. The Lockitron works with Android, and can even unlock the door based on proximity (Lockitron calls this “sense”) if your devices supports Bluetooth 4.0 (iPhone 4s or later).
Price: $179 (preorder)
- WiFi connectivity for remote unlock
- Guest locks presumably without cost and can work via SMS for older phones
- Proximity unlock for iPhones (4s or later)
- Little installation; works with existing lock hardware
- Questionable battery life since built-in WiFi – they’ve had problems with early locks
- Sits on top of existing hardware, which may not fit
4. Schlage Camelot
I also reviewed the Schlage Camelot touch keypad. Though it’s hardly a new idea, the Schlage Camelot is perhaps the most practical because it doesn’t require any key, or a phone to be present to be unlocked. And even better, it works with the Nexia home system, a box that connects the lock, via Z-Wave, to WiFi. The result? Remote unlocking and notifications, though it costs $9.99 a month.
- Touchpad; requires no phone
- Can work over Wifi and a smartphone with the Nexia box
- Doesn’t work with a smartphone out of the box
- Smartphone connectivity costs $9.99/month
- No Bluetooth proximity sensor
A built-in camera on the Goji smart lock captures a picture of those that access or attempt to access the lock. It also boasts many of the same features as the aforementioned smart locks, including WiFi connectivity for remote unlocking, guest keys that can be delivered via text or email, and Bluetooth and Zigbee connectivity. An external display takes things a step further, by offering updates on the lock’s status and a welcome message to users. And last but not least, Goji says they’ve got partnerships with many home automation brands, which should translate to seamless integration into existing setups.
Price: $245 (preorder)
- WiFi, Bluetooth and Zigbee make it the most robust in terms of connectivity
- Captures photo of those trying to access your front door
- Should works with your iPhone and Android device
- External display seems extraneous – another thing to break and power
- Battery life concerns about all of the connectivity and display (speculative)
So which lock is right for you? Keep in mind that until each lock receives a hands on review, it’s difficult to say – some may have a stronger feature set, but not operate as promised. The Kevo isn’t bad, but until Unikey enables remote unlocking, and the ability to share guest keys without having to register (or pay $1.99 per key), I suggest holding off, unless of course you’re just simply looking to ditch the physical key. The Goji sounds promising, but when you consider that the Lockitron is ultra easy to install, works over WiFi, and today has over $2 million in order, you can help but wonder if they’ll end up grabbing the majority share of the market.
Featured “front door” image courtesy of Shutterstock