By Nate Adcock on Thu, 01/09/2014
Home locks are now almost universally featuring smart features with some kind of wireless transmission capability built in. We saw at least three of the latest versions available from Goji, Kwikset, and SimpliciKey at CES this year. All three use a form of wireless capability to remotely open and close a deadbolt locking mechanism, in addition to the more traditional (and now somewhat quaint) metallic key method. All three have mobile control apps that also integrate with lock features or functions. I'll try to boil down what I could learn about each at the show...
First is the Goji Smart Lock, and of the three it is undoubtedly the more sophisticated with a price point of $299 retail. The lock not only allows three modes of access (traditional key, fob, or remote unlock), but features an LED greeting screen, knock sensor, and a camera that alerts you with a live view of someone at your door. A cloud-enabled Wi-Fi service handles the syncing of information like access allowances and imagery from the camera, while Bluetooth key fobs allow quick and easy access to you or your family and friends. Available sometime in Q1 2014. 24/7 technical support available.
The Kwikset Kevo is a Bluetooth capable lock that can allows your door to be unlocked with a touch or even by your proximity (provided your phone has an authorized “ekey” or you have a fob). It even detects when you are inside as opposed to outside the house. The lock is attractively small like many basic Kwikset deadbolts, and has a blue activity light that flashes when the lock is engaged. Coming in June of this year is a gateway device that will allow you to connect through the internet and remotely send unlock commands to your door as well (though not yet available). Get the Kevo online and in the Apple store for around $219 retail.
SimpliciKey, like the other two locks, offers wireless fob capability in addition to traditional key/lock control; but it also offers a numbered keypad entry method. The lock features a sliding cover that hides the keypad, with a sleek and modern patina, and you can issue key codes via an iOS app (which was not available at the show for demo). It does not currently offer a remote unlock control (via the Internet) capability, but a gateway device is planned for later this year to address this (which will include an annual service fee). The lock retails for $249, but with added expenses for services and a gateway, this may be the most expensive of the three locks covered here.
My impression of electronic locks overall are that they are designed more for convenience, but that shouldn't make them less effective than a standard lock (though potential problems could occur). Provided that you aren't dealing with crippling interference or other electronic problems with your lock, these newer wireless locks should be relatively safe and reliable ways to safeguard your home. All use military grade levels of encryption and random key generators for creating entry codes, making it nearly impossible or at least improbable for someone to crack or exploit them. Still, I would advise leaving at least one other accessible outside door configured with a standard deadbolt lock that uses a traditional key (or keep a traditional key handy). If I had to pick one, because of the support level, door sensor and camera integration in the Goji, I might favor that lock over the others, though they all seem to be capable products.