Digital home automation continues to simplify our home lives and counter our forgetfulness, putting our homes on autopilot. With a tap of our smartphones, we can remotely turn off lights, turn on air conditioners and open garage doors. Now that “Smart Locks" are here, we can remotely lock and unlock our doors — without a key. Goji introduced its Smart Lock earlier this year, and now August, a home automaton startup, is gearing up to ship its first product, a mobile-operated smart lock that allows you to lock / unlock your doors and send home access to others via its mobile app. Using Bluetooth, you can unlock your door when you are nearby, and when you leave, the feature “Everlock”, automatically locks the door behind you.
I love when the digitization of analog devices makes our lives easier. And between Holiday travel and relatives coming and going, smart locks are getting a lot of attention. But this particular genre strikes me as just another springboard for people who have more nefarious intentions. While the Bluetooth-enabled August lock arguably provides a more secure lock than Wifi-enabled Smart Lock does (that whole distance of less than 30 feet thing), are we that confident that people still won’t hack the system? Without the right digital security, is it just creating a silent, alarm–overriding entry option that's more appealing than smashing a window? At what cost does it actually simplify our lives?
Perhaps the Smart Lock is better suited in a setting other than a private residence. Maybe in a commercial setting — like a building where there is security on the first floor, with additional locks to get into interior offices on different floors. These locks could potentially be cheaper than traditional key cards and help office managers and HR departments onboard and off–board employees and even guests.
An alternative for a private residence could be the new cloud-based app launched by KeyMe. This app allows users to scan and save virtual copies of their physical keys at designated kiosks in New York 7-Elevens. Locksmiths use the virtual copies in case of a lockout; they cut the keys inside their vans and deliver them in about an hour. Biometric authentication methods are another more secure method of accessing your home and increasing security, but even that can be hacked. I’m still not convinced that these digital methods are any safer or convenient than just using a physical lock and key...and keeping that spare underneath that faux rock in the flowerbed!