I was walking up to my front door this Friday, after a long day at work, doing the usual juggle of Laptop bag, Costa Coffee Travel Mug, shopping while trying to select the key to my front door and failing! I am looking updating the door (Yale Doors looks like a good supplier of replacement doors) and I wondered if in this day and age if there was a better way to unlock it.
There are already a number of products on the market that allow access to your house via your front door without a regular key, you have probably already used a key card to get access to a hotel room somewhere in the world, however I’m thinking along the lines of something that does not need a physical key to open the lock.
Biometric locks that use either you face, retina, voice or fingerprint to identify you are widely available and are becoming more reasonably priced. While they remove the need for a key to open them, they still require the details for each users of the lock to be stored in the device before they can open the door, which can be quite laborious.
Like the ubiquitous iPhone, fingerprint scanning technology seems to be the most stable (unless you’re the CIA and have unlimited resources to hand and want to go for the Mission Impossible retinal scanner)) and cheapest. Locks like the sleek but quite large SAMSUNG SHS-H700 , come with the ability to read fingerprints, while allowing PIN codes and keys to be used as a backup and can be purchased on-line for around £250. I’m not sure about it’s suitability for an external front door but I would lend the internal front door of a flat or apartment an air of technological grandeur!
However I’m more interested in the slew of new gadgets that are now becoming available, that integrate with personal technology rather than using a physical artefact to gain entry. In the modern world it seems that everyone now has a smartphone glued to their hand at all times and rooting around in a bag or pocket for small piece of metal just seems so passé!
Locks like the ones below allow you to control and manage them with a smartphone and/or web app. Some require that you replace the entire lock system, while others let you place a smart device over an existing lock. You’ll just either need to tap a lock with your finger to let yourself in, or maybe just walk up and wait for it to recognise you and unlock. They’re all pretty impressive re-imaginings of an age-old technology.
The August smart lock is probably the most elegant of them all, thanks to Yves Behar’s design touch. The brushed aluminium circular lock replaces your old door lock, and you’ll be able to control and manage it from an iOS, Android, or a web app. The August notifies you when certain people come in and out of your house, and lets you give out unlimited digital keys to your friends and family, customising for exactly how long they’ll have access, what days, or even between what hours. The lock only uses Bluetooth low energy (BLE) to recognise when a phone with a digital key is near. No need to bring the phone out of your pocket or bag as the August unlocks automatically as you approach.
The Goji is the latest smart lock to join the bunch, it’s also the most ambitious. Much like August, the Goji features a circular disk that goes over your current lock. But instead of going on the inside of your door, the disk is located on the outside and you will need to replace your entire locking system with Goji. It also features an LED screen that displays a greeting to the person who is entering or leaving the home. The fanciest feature: The lock includes a built-in camera that takes a photo of the people who activate the lock. You can start collecting photos of people at their most unflattering angle. Beyond that, Goji promises all of the same keyless automatic entry and customisability available in the August lock.
As seen on the US version of the BBC 2 programme, Dragons Den, called Shark Tank ,the Kevo lock’s claim to fame is that it got a bunch of funding from a reality TV show. But the lock itself is pretty impressive, too. Now owned by US lock manufacturer; Kwikset, this lock does require a full install. An app links your iPhone (no Android or Windows Phone implementations yet) to the lock using Bluetooth, eliminating the need to fumble through your pockets or purse for your keys. Just tap the lock with your finger and the halo flashes green, letting you know the door is unlocked. The iPhone app allows you to send digital keys to other people and also allows you manage those keys from within the app too.
The really exciting bit happens when you integrate this with a smart camera\bell like the iBell, a UK kick starter project or SkyBell device, that allows you to view and interact with a stranger at your front door like a family friend or delivery remotely using an App on the same smart phone, then the possibilities are endless. You can give instructions or even open the door without actually being in the house.
Now that is smart and maybe coming to a door near you and me, in the not too distant future………