Are you ready for the smart door?

Trent Ernst, Editor

 

Never one for a analogue solution when a digital one will suffice, we are moving into an exciting time for me.

One of the latest gadgets I have been lusting over is a new smart door lock. Yes, door lock. Insert key, turn? Yeah, those. But why would you need a smart lock?

I have, as mentioned previously, difficulty remembering to do things that are supposed to be done regularly but have no set schedule. Turning down the thermometer when I leave the house, or locking the door.

Enter the smart lock. There are a handful on the market and more on the way, but the basic principle is that they allow you to enter your house without needing a key, as long as you have your smart phone or (in some cases) a special fob with you. Tap the lock and presto magico! Your door opens.

Forget to lock your door? Access the lock wirelessly and tell it to lock. Forgot your phone inside and the door is locked? Well, you can still use an old fashioned key, if you really must. Or, access the lock from your neighbour’s computer, and ask it to open.

The drawback for such convenience? Price. The least expensive offering is nearly $200. The most expensive is closer to $300. Still, for some people, the benefits outweigh the cost.

There are five of these that are on the market or coming to market in the next few months. The August smart lock will be available soon, and costs $200. Forget about remembering to lock your door, or unlock it, it locks whenever the door is closed, and unlocks when you approach with your phone or a key fob. Rather than replace the entire lock, you replace the inside portion of the lock, and keep your old keys. It’s controlled by Bluetooth, which means you can’t unlock it from the internet. I’ll leave it to you to decide if that’s good or bad. It should be available early 2014.

The Lockitron is the easiest of the bunch to use; you don’t have to replace your lock at all; simply slip it over the inside portion of your deadbolt. It is also the least expensive at $179. The drawback is, because it works with existing deadbolts, you need to make sure that it is compatible. Currently, it does not work with a rim deadbolt or mortise style of lock. It should be available in the next few months.

The Schlage Nexia is the most expensive of the bunch. It’s built on the old keypad style of deadbolt, but will also work with a smartphone. But for the privilege of locking or unlocking your door remotely, they’ll charge you a $9/month fee.

The Goji is also very expensive (or will be, once it hits market at an indeterminate time in the future), but is also the most feature rich. In addition to the usual remote/keyless entry, it has a camera, so you can see who is going in or out of your home.

My favourite of the bunch is the Kevo, because I have kids. Instead of needing a smartphone, the Kevo comes with fobs that the kids can keep in their backpacks. It’s iPhone only, at least for now, and requires you to tap the lock to unlock it. However, they charge $1.99 to send out eKeys, which are temporary codes you can send to your friends if they need to get into your house to pick up a DVD.

Is a smart lock necessary? Of course not. And none of the locks do everything. But given the choice between forgetting to lock the doors and having strangers walk in and trash your TV set (true story), and having a lock that works automagically, I choose the latter.

Or will, when they finally hit the market.