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The Current State of Smart Locks

Goji Current State of Smart Locks Schuyler Towne


There are some odd ideas, common mistakes, and a lot of hyperbole, but also intrepid engineering, smart marketing and a level playing field. For the first time in decades there is serious public interest in locks and it's pinging the historian in me hard. I'm going to provide some context, refute some dubious claims, and offer my opinion on what's exciting, what's overhyped, and what I hope is coming next.

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Not sure connected to my iPhone makes a lock smart.

UniKey are best known for the Kevo lock, sold by Kwikset. This is a full replacement for your current deadbolt that opens with a touch when you carry either a key fob or their iPhone app. The Kevo also hosts a Kiwkset Smartkey, a mechanical cylinder that uses a normal key.

I want one.  The Kevo looks the best. 

Yeah, I like the look of the Kevo more than Lockitron, which seems like it's missing something:

The Lockitron requires no hardware replacement whatsoever. It fits over the thumbturn on your current deadbolt. It can be opened with your smartphone in front of the lock, remotely via a web app, or even with a text message.

And the Goji seems a little too advanced:

The Goji is a full replacement for your current deadbolt hardware that can be opened with your smartphone. On the exterior there is a digital display that greets the entrant by name and an integrated camera that sends the owner a photo of the entrant. This display can be flipped down to reveal a traditional mechanical lock.

Conclusion: Still Not Quite Ready for Mainstream

None of these locks quite convince me yet, but all of the features are there to build what I would consider an ideal solution. I would love to see a company come out with tiered options. Being able to buy the super-portable Lockitron, then add a floor-bar like Haven, but have them both controlled by the same device? That would be the least expensive, most advanced, consumer-level multi-point locking system so far. You could go perfectly keyless and add a last-resort power option that uses the Lockitron's knock sensor to trigger Haven's reserve when the batteries are otherwise depleted. Make it as beautiful as the August with the support of the Goji and the partnerships of Yale and Unikey, and you might just have the perfect smart lock.

Unfortunately, we're probably still years away from that scenario, but hopefully as these locks gain wide acceptance we'll start to see better options, wider integrations and clever adoption of each other's ideas.

So, if someone rings my doorbell, and I got to answer the door from the inside with my phone in my pocket, what's to prevent them from just touching the lock and unlocking it?  

I guess nothing. Clearly this needs to be thought out.

what's wrong with a deadbolt?

Can't control it from my phone so I can't check remotely that I did in fact lock my door. 

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