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Smart locks explained: Smart security for a connected home

What are smart locks and what can they do? 

Smart locks are here to help secure your home and make your life that little bit easier, letting you control your locks with your devices in a range of ways. 

What are smart locks? 

As the name suggests, smart locks are the next wave of home security, operating electromechanically to secure your home. Instead of requiring a key to open (although many still have that option), a smart lock communicates with a smartphone or a special fob.

Smart locks that are available in Australia use Bluetooth or other wireless technology to operate and run on batteries so that they are not affected by power outages.

The ingenuity of a some smart locks is that if you have a visitor coming and you won’t be home, they can let you email or text your invitee a temporary, personalised virtual key or a PIN to use.

You can even set a time limit to exactly when they can come and go, and receive notifications on who has been accessing your home at what times.

In terms of hardware, some smart locks integrate with the deadbolts you already have on your door, while others will require installation from a locksmith or skilled handyperson.

Be sure to do your research, and check out user and professional reviews before making any purchases.

Smart lock options 

There are quite a few smart locks on the market in Australia, all of which operate slightly differently. You can purchase a smart lock online, but not all may suit your property or setup.

Speak to your home security installer or ask at the hardware store to find out what’s available near you.

If you rent your home, remember that you will likely need permission to make any alterations to the door lock, and you may have to leave the new lock behind when you move out if it’s a permanent installation.

Bluetooth smart locks 

If you often forget your keys, but never leave home without your phone, you can purchase a Bluetooth style set up. This links with your phone to perform functions like automatically locking 30 seconds after you have left the house.

Bluetooth smart locks can also be programmed to open automatically once you are within a certain range, or to respond to a simple tap on the outside of the lock using NFC technology.

Bluetooth also locks often have a fob key option that you can lend out to guests, tradespeople, or anyone else that needs access, meaning they don’t need a compatible phone.

Example: Kwikset Kevo.

PIN or fingerprint smart locks 

Just as likely to forget your phone as your keys? A smart lock with a fingerprint sensor or PIN entry might make up for all those times you leave your bag on the kitchen counter.

These types of digital locks are handy for share-houses or for families with teenage children who come and go a lot.

Example: Samsung’s range of fingerprint door locks.

Wi-fi smart locks 

A good look at where the future may be headed, a wi-fi enabled smart lock can connect to your home network for easy, keyless entry. You can also send ‘invitations’ to third parties and keep track of who has come and gone via an app on your smartphone, tablet, or PC.

Whether you are down the road or travelling the road on business, your wi-fi smart lock will be able to tell you if your door has been properly secured.

Example: August smart lock, which is integrates with desktop computers and laptops, with Android as well as Siri (just say “hey Siri, unlock my front door”).

Smart padlocks 

For security inside the home and when you’re on the go, consider a smart padlock that works with a smartphone app and Bluetooth technology. No keys required, these cool gadgets can stay locked for up to two years without needing charging (your smartphone will alert you when the battery does start to run low).

Example: the Dog and Bone Keyless Bluetooth Padlock.

Benefits of Smart Locks 

As our homes become increasingly connected, smart locks are likely to become more frequently used as part of a ‘home hub’ that links security, heating and entertainment.

In the near future, you could be able to set your lights to automatically come on and music to start playing in your connected home as soon as you open the front door.

Smart locks can make a lot of sense, especially in an age where we increasingly share our homes with strangers via rental sites such as AirBnB.

Remotely allowing access is also a better alternative to the old ‘key under the mat’ for those of us who lead increasingly busy lives and outsource our cleaning, household repairs and our dog walking.

Finally, the benefit of smart locks is that they can simply make life easier on those days when you turn up to your front door with your hands full!

As our homes become more connected, a faster internet connection will likely be needed to handle the increased load. For more information, check out our blog on digital concurrency, and what it means when you have more and more devices that are always-online.

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