This is a Guest Post written for FraNKAPPTech.com
As human beings, change is an inevitable part of our lives. We are constantly on the move, searching for ways to make our lives more comfortable and more efficient. It was this trait that brought about the birth of Smart Locks. Smart locks aim to make safety and comfort a seamless and unified experience. Homeowners are presented with more options than they would have with traditional locks, and they are given more efficient access to their homes when they are there, and when they are not.
However, should efficiency trump safety or quality? Change is a process, and it is hard to get everything right on the first try. This sentiment also holds true for the Smart Lock industry in their quest to craft the future of home security. There are some key aspects of many smart locks that the industry needs to properly address in order to make sure that they are providing homeowners with products that keep their homes safe and secure. Let’s take a look at 5 key problems that the Smart Lock Industry has to address.
- Battery Life
One of the biggest problems that the Smart Lock industry faces is that of power and battery life. Smart Locks are innovative in their designs and the concepts behind them, but some of them have inherent flaws that burglars could possibly capitalize on. Many of the smart locks on the market rely on battery power to function. For the models that rely on battery power, it has been noted that the lifespan of these batteries is rather short and this is a major concern for homeowners. Some of the smart locks (like the Kevo) sought to make the battery of their locks last much longer by restricting it to operating only by Bluetooth.
Other locks have no such luck because they are pushing the boundaries of efficiency and connectivity. These locks are heavily integrated with other devices and receivers around homes, which in turn places a lot of strain on the battery that powers the lock. In the event that the battery of a lock dies or there is a power failure, these locks rely on reverting back to the traditional keyed system to give people access to their homes or offices. However, there are some smart locks that aim to do away with the idea of keys altogether. They want to fully embrace what the future has to offer, it just seems like we are not ready to receive it yet. I experienced this first hand when the battery in my Smart Lock at home died and I had to jump through a window to gain access. The issue with the power and the battery life of these locks also raises many concerns about what happens when homeowners are locked out of their homes and their locks are powered down? Also, is powering down a lock a way for burglars to circumvent the lock?
There are some ingenious ideas out there that allow homeowners to charge their batteries, or provide temporary power to the locks so that they can regain access to their homes, but none that tackles this problem and does away with traditional locks at the same time. The Smart Lock Industry has to make homeowners want to do away with their keys, because they have been given an option that is the perfect blend of comfort and efficiency and as yet they have not been given that option.
- Low Security Cylinders
Another major problem that the Smart Lock Industry has to fix is the fact that the locks which they are pitching as the future of security have very low-security cylinders. This is most likely because the industry has spent so much time trying to make a smart lock for the future which will do away with keyed systems, that they have neglected the basics of any good lock. What is the point of having a lock that can be operated from your phone, or that unlocks as soon as you walk near, but is still ineffective at keeping your home safe?
A good number of the smart locks on the market boast that they give homeowners added safety but these locks can still be picked, bumped or bypassed by other means. There is no law that says you need to sacrifice the quality of a lock in order to pursue something different about it. One review I came across about the August Smart Lock showed that even though it had all these cool and awesome perks and additions, it did not meet the basic safety requirements that they had envisioned for their home.
- Price Point
It is hard to talk about the problems the Smart Lock Industry has to address without paying any attention to the price point they attach to their products. From a personal standpoint, I would be willing to pay more for a product if it did, in fact, offer me the claim of enhanced comfort and efficiency. If it did not, then I would be less inclined to do so. This is the conundrum that the Smart Lock Industry has presented to many homeowners. You will be hard pressed to find a good Smart Lock on the market that is a priced below $120. This makes it hard for many homeowners to even hop on the Smart Lock train, for the simple reason that it has not yet been proven to be more effective than some of the simple and effective DIY methods homeowners already employ to make their homes more secure.
Some will say that the price point is justified by the level of comfort that Smart Locks bring to the table, the only problem is that comfort is not yet present at the table. Homeowners are essentially being asked to pay for more expensive locks that are still trying to find solid footing. They work for some, but they do not yet work for the majority of homeowners.
- App Functionality
The integration of Smart Locks with other devices was one of its chief marketing points. This integration is meant to usher in a new age of connectivity that will ideally allow homeowners and business owners to have complete control of their locks from different locations. Some of the smart locks aim to do away with keys altogether. For instance, the august smart lock has a feature that unlocks your door once you walk up to it, simply by being able to detect the Bluetooth signal from your phone.
However, these functions cannot work on their own, hence the integration with other applications. This integration, has been one of the faltering points of the Smart Lock industry time and time again. For instance, many homeowners that have given the August Smart Lock a run have complained about the fact that it is not compatible with some Android devices and thus they are paying for locks that they cannot even use as advertised.
There is a lot of promise in the Smart Lock Industry, but in order for any of this to be fully realised there are some key things that have to corrected and app functionality is one of the most important. This is because it’s integration with other applications is the key to making a truly efficient Smart Lock.
- Software Security
Software Security is among the most important problems that the Smart Lock Industry has to address, simply because many, if not all, Smart Locks utilise some software interface in order to lock or unlock doors. This opens up a new portal to burglars and criminals who want to target homes or offices. Instead of having to target physical locations they now have the option to focus on bypassing the software’s security instead of having to bypass a physical door. In this instance, it becomes obvious that instead of homeowners being given more security, they are instead opening themselves up to more ways of being compromised. If a hacker is able to make their way past the security protocols that the lock’s software has in place, they will now be in total control of your lock and you might not even know it.
There is no doubt in my mind that Smart Locks have a place in our future, but before they can take that place and appeal to the majority of homeowners out there, the problems mentioned above need to be addressed. An ideal Smart Lock should give homeowners safety and comfort while still being efficient at a price that appeals to the majority of homeowners.
Ralph Goodman is a professional locksmith and an expert writer on all things locks and security over at the Lock Blog. The Lock Blog is a great resource to learn about keys, locks and safety. They offer tips, advice and how-to’s for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals.
We love comments, please share your replies!
Please notice that your comments will be manually approved before being displayed. But don't worry, this is done as quick as possible (less than 10 mins). Thanks!