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Smart lock: First trigger of smart home with more control and easier integration

Smart lock: First trigger of smart home with more control and easier integration
Smart locks, which interact with the smartphone and automatically trigger smart home products such as lights and thermostats once the user gets in, are now seen more and more at the front door. “As adoption increases and technology develops further, smart locks will offer the homeowner more convenience and connectivity while maintaining security and control,” said Donald Beene, Product Manager for Smart Home at Allegion.

Henning Overgaard, CEO of Poly-Control which makes smart locks called Danalocks, said home smart locks’ growth potential will be significant. “We have been in the business for almost 15 years doing smart locks. For the last year, things have moved, and we think that maybe in the next two years things will really take off,” he said.


Needless to say, using the smartphone to open doors brings the homeowner more convenience, which is a main selling point for smart locks. With these locks, the homeowner doesn't need to bring keys or worry about losing them again. Rather, the door can be opened with the device that’s most personal to everyone, the smart device.

When the smartphone is used to open the smart lock, two primary technologies are used to enable the handshake between the two: near-field communication (NFC) and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), the latter of which is now gaining prominence due to its pervasiveness and ability to allow a more secure communication.

“BLE chips are cheap and increasingly found in every modern smartphone, tablet, and laptop, and this opens up our smart device interoperability over BLE,” said Rocco Vitali, Product Manager of Electronic Security Products at ISEO Serrature. “Security of communication over the BLE channel is achieved with the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), using session keys exchanged with Diffie-Hellmann Elliptic Curves and generated using the NIST-compliant random number generators.” “We both encrypt and authenticate all messages sent with the latest standards to ensure no messages can be ‘replayed,’” said Cameron Robertson, Co-Founder and CEO of Lockitron.

NFC solutions, meanwhile, also exist. “Our locking system can be controlled using Android-based smartphones featuring NFC. The smartphone forwards all the events from the door to the online administration to keep the entire system up to date,” said Hanspeter Seiss, Product Manager at EVVA Sicherheitstechnologie. “All transferred data is secured with cuttingedge encryption standards.”

Other benefits

There are other advantages to smart locks as well. One of them is better security over traditional metal keys and locks. “Metal keys are so easy to bump, crack, snap, kick, or jemmy-open, and they don’t really provide peace of mind in securing your home,” said Steve Dunn, CEO of LEAPIN Digital Keys. “Isn’t it ironic that people’s most treasured possession, their family, and often their second most treasured possession, their home, is protected with a US$20 to $30 piece of flimsy metal that anyone can get through by simply watching a two-minute YouTube video about lock bumping and purchasing or making a bump key for $10?”

According to Dunn, a smart lock’s true value comes when it is coupled with stainless steel security screens on windows, doors, and door frames. “Statistics show that most break-ins occur through smashed windows, or from kicking down back doors with wooden frames,” he said. “Installing smart locks with steel screens, doors, and steel frames creates an impenetrable fortress and gives ultimate peace of mind that your family is safe.”

More control

More importantly, smart locks offer the administrator greater management control over who can come at what time. Whether it’s a babysitter who comes over once a week for one hour, or a friend who is coming over the weekend, the homeowner can grant or deny access to others on specific dates or time. Once someone has entered, the homeowner can be notified of the entry.

“Bolt can be shared with family and guests on a permanent or temporary basis. Invitations can be sent via SMS or email. In addition we offer a full-featured open-web API so that other apps or devices can also control Lockitron,” Robertson said.

“As the next step in our development roadmap, it is possible to send an invite directly to a user. The user arriving at the front door will type the invite and will open the door with a BLE smartphone,” said Vitali.

“Our online administration allows you to grant access authorizations to unlock our locking components and many more features,” said Seiss. “All you need is a computer or notebook with an installed browser, an Internet connection, and sufficient KeyCredits to register and send a key to the user. Also with one click the authorization can be canceled. Preprogrammed temporary access from five minutes to several days can be programmed in advance and sent to the customer.”

Meanwhile, the lock can also generate detailed reports or audits upon the request of the user, who can then get a clearer picture of who has come and left at what time. Smart locks also allow the user to open a door remotely using their mobile device. “This one is handy if the lock is linked to an IP camera so you can see who is at the door first — for example if it’s the postman, you can open the door for him/her and they can place your package safely inside the door, and you can watch him leave and ensure your door is closed and locked again,” Dunn said.

Integration with smart home systems

Another draw of the smart lock is its ability to integrate with various home automation devices, which have become more pervasive in the era of smart home. Enabled with the Zigbee or Z-Wave technology, the smart lock serves as the “first trigger”  that turns on lights or AC system once someone enters the house.

“We have all the integration options in our new application. We have complete integration to Logitech Harmony and Nest where if you come home, the Danalock will trigger your Nest thermostat and update home away status,” said Overgaard.  “The Danalock can trigger every scenario in your smart home system. When you come home it turns off the burglar alarm and switch on the light. When you leave the house it turns on the burglar alarm and switch off the light. It’s a real trigger for the home automation system. That's beginning to work now, and everybody sees this as a complete solution.”

Yale’s Linus locks also work within the Nest ecosystem. “This will interact with the Nest thermostat, Nest Protect, and Nest Cam. So when you come in your thermostat will become a little smarter, knowing if I’m in the home or away from the home via my entry through the door. Other things can happen. If there is a CO2 or smoke warning it can tell me even before I walk into the house,” said Mark Fish, Director of Sales and Business Development at Yale Locks and Hardware.

“At initial launch, the Schlage Sense smart deadbolt works with Apple HomeKit,” said Beene. “This means that it can be used with a variety of other HomeKit-enabled accessories and apps to make your home smarter.”

Adding smartness to the home

Smart locks nowadays can lock and unlock via the homeowner’s smart device. Moreover, they can connect with various home automation devices, providing security as well as convenience for users as they leave or arrive at home. With smart locks setting the trend in the residential sector, it can be expected that pretty soon they will be found at every home entrance, rendering mechanical locks and keys a thing of the past.

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