A Brief History of Smart Lock
Locks have always played a very important role in the history of human race as a security device. Earlier the locks were door fixtures with bolts and known as pin tumbler locks, whose evolved version is still in use. There are various kinds of lock available in the market. With the advancement in the field of technology, Locks have been connected with electronic circuits and other technologies which makes these locks more useful and powerful. Technology has not only integrated electronic circuits but have also tried to make these locks keyless. With the increasing trend of smartphones, applications, easy access of internet and high speed of internet has made it possible for manufacturers to invent smart lock. This kind of lock is an electro-mechanical lock which can be controlled, managed and administered by a smart phone or any other authorized electronic device. When the locks were created, it was a dream that locks can communicate with the owner of the lock but these have helped realize the dream. Smart locks can be connected to internet through a Wi-Fi router and can be enabled to receive commands. They can be opened by a smart key which uses sensors and microchips to ensure authorized access. Firewalls and secure coding makes it almost impossible for a trespasser to open the lock without authorization.
Smart locks were born to let users control the locks wirelessly and be alarmed in case of any unauthorized access. These keyless devices not only come with secure applications but also understand that there can be a possibility where phone might get lost, or battery drained so a backup key is always there which will help the owner in case of any electronic circuit failure. They come in variety of textures, feels and looks and variety of options with respect to kind of mobile phone platforms be it android or apple iOS platform. Usually smart locks are programmed with locking capabilities, apart from this it also houses alarm systems which can be customized by the user.
There is a big problem with conventional locks which is solved by these smart locks i.e. the number of keys. All conventional locks come with a set number of keys usually which is a single digit number. These problem is completely solved by them as the access can be given to large number of users by the master user. Also more than one lock can be connected with the app so there is no need to carry big number of keys just because you have more number of access points locked by use of them. These wireless smart locks are effective and efficient and are future of locks. Some of them are using Bluetooth technology and some are Wi-Fi driven, more or less the program is same. A lot of smart locks are coming with a design where it becomes easier to install and you don`t need to change the current lock which not only saves on cost to the user but also saves on various wear and tear of supporting structures. The potential of these can be seen from the rise of number of smart phone users. People are skeptical to buy them due to the fear of hacking and electronic circuit failure. But as of now there are no such reports of failures of these which definitely brightens the future of smart locks. They can change the way and the level of your beloved home`s security which can interact with you. Once you get acquainted to this device, there is a lot of scope of more advancement where internet of things can come into picture for example your alarm clock will tell your door that the owner is awake and he wants to go for morning walk and the door responds that he just confirmed he woke up and I will automatically open after 5 minutes and a message will be sent to owner that door will be open for walk, you can undo. These type of things are only possible when not only us but our things become smart.
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Who the smart lock is for?
This is a new concept in security industry and the demand for which is rising day by day. On one hand seeing the complex integrated circuits and use of mobile applications to control this device, it may seem that these are not for all. but on the other hand the real truth is that they are for everyone. It is just like any smart device you buy; it not only makes you smart but also makes you interact with the things. Anyone who uses a smart phone should have a smart lock. Usually the question which comes to the mind of any user is “Why Should I get a Smart Lock?” and the answer to this is similar to why someone will buy a smart phone or why someone will move to the latest and better technology than the one which is prevailing. To know whether one needs it or not, we can divide users into two main groups:
First group comprises of people who already have locks installed and are looking forward to replace existing locks. For them the choice is easy as most of the locks are coming with easy installation over the previous existing locks. Few locks are coming with installation over current existing bolt and can be installed with simple use of screw driver. You don`t need any special external support for installation of this lock. Above all it is safe to use as any tampering will result in alarms and the same will be notified to you.
Second group comprises of people who are constructing new house or changing doors of their house. They can install the available locks from a wide variety not only in terms of finish but in terms of functioning also. All these locks come in a lot of textures, styles, colors and finish. These locks have built in keypad and attractive number pad for entering the passcode with illuminated backlights which not only adds a stylish look to the door but is also useful in case of dim or no light. Anyone who is going for a new lock set for their house or office can go for a smart lock as the prices are not very high and they can be controlled with a smartphone.
Usually people have fear as what will happen in case of phone’s battery failure or loss of phone. They usually feel that in such a case they will be out of house forever but this is not true as there are more ways to open this lock. These locks can be controlled through smartphone, through passcode or a normal key mechanism.
Passcodes are used in case you can’t or you don’t want to use your phone. Key can be used in case there is some electric failure or a problem with lock’s electronic circuit. These locks are powered by a battery which can last long for up to 12 months. One doesn’t need to worry about the replacement of the battery as smart locks are smart enough to alert you regarding battery replacement.
If you are having an android phone or using only apple products, you don’t need to worry about the platform dependency as most of them are coming with compatibility with both the platforms. These locks can easily be paired up with your phones and the master owner can allow other users to use this. Latest smart locks come with compatibility with homeKits which can help control the whole house’s electrical circuits. Major homeKits in market are given by apple and amazon and a lot of local kits are also available which are based on android.
So we can conclude that everyone can install, use and utilize a smart lock. Another reason why everyone should look forward to these is the convenience, the convenience to be key less and the ease of just remembering the pass code. More over conventional locks have lesser number of keys or very few locks are there which have more than 3 keys but now days, sometimes it becomes necessary to give access to more people for example if some guests are home and timings of entering house is different. Think of a situation where someone called you up that they will be at your home within an hour and you got stuck in traffic jam and the person is waiting at home. In case of a conventional lock, you don`t have any option other than the person will have to wait and you will be in guilt throughout your way. But in case of a smart lock, you can share one-time passcode which can be changed later on and can give you a sigh of relief. In some locks you can give access to as many as 30 users and lock can also analyze who opened the door and when and also which can be used to see the usage or deletion of users.
Things to Consider when buying a smart lock
Buying them is simple but there are few things which one needs to keep in mind while buying. You may compare your smart lock on basis of following parameters:
Security: Locks have various technology on which they work, the smart application and the lock both have program codes written in their circuits. How secure these locks are depended on the security of these codes. Also the security of these locks depend on whether these locks are Wi-Fi enabled, Bluetooth enabled or some other mechanism. Locks which can be accessed through Wi-Fi are more vulnerable to risks.
Also the security of the lock depends on the functionality of the lock for example if it could be a deadbolt lock and that too whether it is single cylinder or double cylinder lock, there are various types of locks like cam lock, cylinder lock etc. One needs to check which lock mechanism best suits you and be checked from the manual or website. Smart locks are at risk as the look and the style gives a feeling of fear to trespassers.
Price: Price Usually they are available at around 100$ which gives you almost all the basic features but for locks equipped with voice commands, tamper alarms etc. come in the range of 200$ to 400$. High price means more features and more compatibility. You need to choose the most suitable lock for you as a lot of features may go unused if a high price lock is bought for a simple setup.
There are a lot of promotional schemes and offers going on, on various websites, companies offer discounts even up to 50% to 60%. These discounts are going on since the concept is new and companies want more and more people to use these locks. It is better to go for smart locks when there is an option to choose between conventional and new age locks because post discounts there is not much of difference between these in terms of price.
Installation: another important parameter while choosing smart lock for your house is installation of the device. Most of these come with a handy and easy installation which does not need much of expertise, tools and assistance. But still, there are locks which need complete replacement or a major change while installing. So, while choosing a lock one must see the kind of installation and the changes required as not everyone is prepared for a cumbersome process of installation. Usually installation can be done using a screw driver set but still, it is always better to check before buying.
Pairing up with Wi-Fi and phone is not difficult since the smart locks are made for that purpose only. Installation can be seen on the website or on YouTube where complete installation is shown and can give you a clear idea about the type of installation. Only after becoming sure that the installation is not a rocket science, one should finalize the kind of lock. The best part is that you can pair all locks of your house with your smart phone and can control them.
Features: Features is all a smart device is all about. There was a time when people used to show magic tricks of switching on and off a bulb with a clap but smart devices have made this trick a real one by using technology. With such locks it becomes easier for you to control security of your home with your smart phone. These locks have a great sense of technology but still all makers try to lure customers by adding various other features. All smart locks have basic features of a lock i.e. of locking and unlocking a door via smartphone app. Further features include number pad, led lights, alarms etc. One should know what feature is required and what can be of use in coming future. There are some which cannot be connected to home appliance controller and there are some which become a part of it.
Maximum number of members who can access a lock is also an important feature and should be kept in mind. Apart from this there are locks which offer voice connectivity for example Schlage Sense can controlled using Siri Voice Command. Tamper Alarm, Low Battery alert and other alarms is also a feature which helps. Apart from this, most of the features are there in the mobile app which can be checked before buying a lock. It is important to read the rating of the app given by users which lets you know the performance of the app in terms of connectivity, performance, crash history and speed.
Integration: It is very important to see whether the lock will be integrated with your current systems or not, locks come with integration with Bluetooth or z-wave or both. There are few locks which can be controlled over Wi-Fi and some can be used via another system for example apple TV.
The app made for the lock should be compatible with your device, most of the apps are available on android platform and are also compatible with apple iOS. There are few locks which have apps only defined for apple iphone, ipad and ipod having ios 8 or more for example Schlage Sense, so in case a person is having android phone, this lock is not useful.
When you want a small distance remote access, the best technology for your lock is Bluetooth, commonly known Bluetooth smart locks are August Smart Lock, Schlage Sense Bluetooth Poly-Control’s Danalock (Bluetooth version), Kwikset Kevo.
If you already have smart devices at home which are connected to Z-Wave for example smart garage openers, smart lights, fans etc. you should opt for a lock which can be easily connected to Z-wave. Future is of internet of things, where smart objects will interact amongst each other.
If the need is of distance access, then Wi-Fi system should be integrated with the lock, most common locks are August Connect, Kwikset Kevo Plus and Schlage sense with Apple TV.
For a person looking for a smart lock, it won`t be easy to finalize one as more and more variants are coming the market but one needs to be careful about the aforementioned parameters.
Smart locks definitely give you an edge over conventional locks. Usually people say what is the need of smart lock, it is also used for locking the door and a conventional lock is also used for locking the door but the difference can be explained by saying that a smart phone and a conventional Nokia phone both are used for calling but why are we going for smart phones because they are more effective, efficient, gives us more flexibility and is the Future. All these locks are having few basic common functionalities but the quality of app, features distinguish them from each other.
It should be clear that smart locks may not increase security of lock but brings a lock closer to you in terms of interaction. Any tampering in the lock can alarm you and raise an alarm. We cannot conclude on any one lock as requirements change from buyer to buyer. for some buyer, Schlage lock is perfect and for another August is good depending on the expectations you have from your lock. Also a it can change the way you and others look at your home, getting advanced in anything always gives pleasure and also this lock adds a sense of luxury. These locks have elegant displays and easy to use applications. Yes, one needs to be careful while choosing a lock as once you have installed a lock, it is not easy to change and go too square one in terms of connectivity with your lock.
You should understand that the key to your lock is your phone and passcode, both of them should be secure and it is better if it is only with those whom you can trust completely. Keep on updating your lock whenever there is an update alert as blacklisted keys should be updated in the lock, more over app should be updated time to time as there are reported problems by other users. These bugs are fixed by the makers from time to time and it is important to keep on updating. Once installation is done, you should try all the features of the app so that you are acquainted with the app as in case you need to use a feature, you should know the result of any command as any wrong command may affect security of your home adversely. Above all one should understand that keeping an easy passcode and for a long time will put your security at risk so one should keep an uncommon pass code and keep on changing it frequently. It is rightly said that only a smart person deserves a smart lock. Happy Smartness!