Phone Operated Locks

These days, we open our car doors without much conscious thought – a single flick of a button is all it takes. We have been getting into hotel rooms for many years now without actual keys – just those thin plastic swipe cards. Keypad entry systems are now considered mainstream, be it push-button or touch screen-type. Some companies now use biometric (fingerprint) access to monitor the comings and goings of employees.

Modern society has really come a long way from ancient wooden deadbolts. We are now seeing more and more phone-operated door locks or smart locks. Many people however are still apprehensive of this new technology but some are actually curious enough to try them out.

So what exactly are phone-operated locks?

Basically your smart phone becomes a “key” and you open locks with it. Some of the popular models include August Smart Lock, Kwikset Kevo, Goji Smart Lock among others.    

How do they work?

All the smart locks out there have something in common – you control them either with a smart phone and/or a web app. They vary in whether you have to replace your entire lock or simply install a smart device over an existing deadbolt. To be able to use your smart phone as a key, it has to be “invited” or registered in order to be recognized as a valid “key”.  By being “invited”, it means your phone will be issued a unique code. So all you have to do is approach the door, enable your phone’s Bluetooth and open the app that will send your key code to the device. The device then takes a few seconds to “pick its brain” (scan) for your key code and once found, it will release the lock and open the door.

Some models offer a traditional keypad on the lock as an alternative to using your smart phone (just in case you don’t have it with you). There are those equipped with a LED screen that displays a greeting as you come in or leave. Another cool feature is the ability to take a photo of your guest as he/she activates the lock. One model will open the door for you without having to take out your phone from your pocket. No need to open an app – as long as your phone is a recognized device, you simply have to tap on the lock and the door will open. Some models can even be controlled remotely. Not all smart locks will have all of these features, only a combination of some.

Will smart locks keep your homes safe just like traditional door locks?

Now this is somewhat a tricky question to answer, as there is probably nothing that will stop a determined intruder from breaking in if they really wanted to. Having said that, you will have to study each model and their safety features carefully and decide what works for you.

What can go wrong?

This question was probably asked about every new thing that came out. As far as the phone-operated lock is concerned, there are quite a few, but manufacturers will most definitely have an answer for you. For example, what happens if you lose your phone or if the battery dies? Simple, some models still feature a traditional key hole so you can always use a traditional key, or a keypad by which to input your code. Others provide a separate fob (much like for opening your car doors). You will have to log on to your provider’s website to cancel your lost phone’s access and transfer it to another phone. On some models, if you sign into the app using another smart phone, your eKeys or access codes will be instantly transferred to it.

All available brands out there are pretty much DIY-type, but some people prefer to have professional locksmiths do the job for them, especially if they have a few doors to work on. Some manufacturers do offer certification for locksmiths who want to become members of their sales and technical network. There are some perks like product discounts, advance information on upcoming product releases and client referrals apart from gaining a larger support group of other professional locksmiths to share job experiences with.

It may still be sometime before phone-operated door locks become as main stream as the smart phones themselves, but already they are giving our generation a glimpse into what our grandparents only watched about in sci-fi movies.

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