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10 smart lock companies that want to disrupt your front door key

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You could call it insider dealing.

If you think about it, the only thing standing between every object inside your house/flat and the outside world is a single front door lock.

One simple mechanism and a world of eager burglars.

So does your house key need disrupting?

Can technology make your property safer? Or will it make it drastically more vulnerable?

These questions are far from settled. But that hasn’t stopped a band of start-ups – and many investors – from tackling the concept.

They will argue the differences, but they’re all doing a variation on the same thing. Their devices allow the home owner to lock and unlock the door with their smartphone.

They can do this when they are present (usually via Bluetooth) or when they are not (usually via wifi). They can also grant access to designated guests and tradespeople, and get a full record of who has come and gone.

No doubt, the rise of the smartphone and of short range technologies has propelled the smart lock space. So has crowdfunding and the emergence of services like AirBnB which make access more of a pressing issue.

Indeed, the smart lock has become one of the most visible manifestations of the Internet of Things era.

So who’s trying to unlock it? Here are ten…

Lockitron-Bolt smart lockLockitron Bolt

This is one of the pioneers of the space, having launched in early 2011. However, its early efforts were a bit of a washout.

However, earlier this year, it launched a new $99 Bolt product, which the firm says will resolve its earlier issues.

The Bolt replaces the deadbolt (earlier versions clipped over the old one) and connects to phones via Bluetooth. It also comes with a separate ‘bridge’ that connects the lock to the internet so owners can configure it remotely.

The Lockitron actually records every interaction with the lock – not just approved uses, but also when someone knocks on the door or unlock it mechanically.

smart lockAugust

This is arguably the smart lock that’s received the most attention of them all. It comprises a neat round module that sits above the old house lock. The module connects and recognises any user that’s been given permission to access the house. The door is unlocked as they approach.

So the home owner can grant virtual keys to friends or even tradespeople – all from the August dashboard. He or she can vary the duration as they wish.

The $249.95 August lock communicates with authorised visitors over Bluetooth. It uses batteries, so it doesn’t rely on the power supply. It never talks to August’s server, the cloud or the Internet.

smart lockGoji

This Indiegogo hit replaces the deadbolt with an elegant round device that has a visual LED display. It certainly wins the style prize for all the smart locks that have come into the market. Like the rest, it lets the house owner grant access to visitors from one dashboard. It works by connecting to the home wifi.

What makes it a little different is the in-built camera that will send a photo to the owner to verify who’s at the door. It also supports the use of a fob for anyone who doesn’t have a phone. Kids maybe.

Goji was a PR darling when it smashed its target and raised $310,000 on Indiegogo in 2013. But then it delayed its launch many times and backers got very annoyed. It’s now available at $299 and has been picked up by Staples and Walmart.

smart lockSesame

Just days ago, Sesame raised $1 million on Kickstarter, with the initial $100,000 target reached in nine hours.

Needless to say, the lock does what all the others so in terms of bestowing access to nominated visitors and keeping records of who came and went.

So Sesame is trading off a few USPs. The first is ease of installation, which is done in seconds. Basically, you clip it over any existing lock and it turns the key as if a human were doing it.

The other differentiator is the knock. Users can designate a unique sequence and then either knock their phone or their door to unlock.

Sesame is currently available as a preorder for Kickstarter backers for $99. The regular retail price will be $149. There’s a hipster video featuring the beardy guy from the Coin promo.

smart lockSchlage Sense

This touch-pad enabled smart lock is notable for being compliant with Apple HomeKit. That means it’s possible for homeowners to use Siri to unlock their doors.

Alternatively, users can enter a code to gain access. They enter this on the touchpad or via the smartphone app. The system can schedule up to 30 codes at the same time. Needless to say, owners can create and delete codes at will, and view all activity from their app.

Scalage is a division of security company Allegion, and has various other smart products available.

smart lockKwikset Kevo

This smart lock was actually created by startup UniKey but it teamed up with established lock makers Kwikset and Weiser to bolster its offering.

The Kevo looks like a regular front door lock. However, it connects to and recognises the smartphone of any authorised visitor. These visitors then touch the lock to open the door. It also recognises fobs for those without a phone.

The device uses a public-key infrastructure system rather than Bluetooth. Apparently, this is very secure because it tokenizes each communication and makes them unique.

smart logoSony Orio

Hard to believe Sony – giant tech pioneer Sony – chose to fund its smart lock project via Makuake, Japan’s equivalent to Kickstarter.

The Orio doesn’t appear to different from the other locks competing in the smart lock space. Though Sony claims its the “world’s smallest”.

It clips over the existing lock and assigns entry via smartphone to designated visitors. Sony met its funding goals and will launch the Orio at around $100.

smart logoNoke

Pronounced No-key. Geddit?

Fuz’s Noke is not a front door lock, but a smart padlock. It uses Bluetooth connectivity as the unlocking mechanism, activated when your smartphone is nearby. You can also program it to work with friends’ phones.

The device is waterproof and is batteries last a year. But if the power dies, Noke has a Quick-Click function that lets owners uses a series of long and short taps to unlock it.

Fuz financed Noke on Kickstarter and smashed its $100,000 target to raise over $500,000. The product retails for around $89.

smart lockFriday Smart Lock

At time of writing, the Friday is on Indiegogo and has passed its $75,000 goal.

The device connects to the phone by wifi and Bluetooth and works with Apple HomeKit. It will even work with Nest and link to the thermostat in the home.

Friday clearly puts the emphasis on aesthetic style. Buyers can choose to have their pleasingly curvy lock in gunmetal, stainless steel and unglazed porcelain.

The lock will cost $249 at retail in the US and Sweden.

smart lockRing

Remember DoorBot, the network connected video doorbell? Well, it’s now Ring.

The basic idea behind Doorbot was a smart front door bell that could transmit audio and video over wifi to the homeowner’s smartphone.

They could then see who was at the door, and even communicate with them.

Thew $249 Ring retains all this but is easier to install (it connects to the existing bell), and supports extras like night vision and motion detection.