There are more than a handful of connected devices that you can use with your “smart home,” but most of these devices are expensive, have to be used with other devices, and can be downright tricky to use. But, there’s always room in the smart home market for another device - especially one that lets you create virtual keys with passwords using phones.
The August Smart Lock
The August Smart Lock looks kind of like a home thermostat, and it has been compared to the Nest thermostat, but it’s actually a lock that you can install on your front door. The lock can be installed like any other lock (remove the bolts, add the lock, etc), and you can manually lock the door with the Smart Lock if you so choose. But - and here’s the fun part - the August Smart Lock can also be entirely controlled from your iPhone 5 or 4S.
Why would you want to use a phone to unlock your door? Namely because anyone that also has the free app can also enter your home, if you provide a password to those people. If that sounds too dangerous to you, here’s the other great part - passwords can be sent and set for a certain period of time. So, you can send your neighbor a password to unlock your door with his iPhone, and you can also make sure that the password expires after twenty minutes, an hour, or longer (as long as you choose, really).
The password option adds an extra level of security to the August Smart Lock, and it’s a lot easier to disable a password then it is to get a physical key back from someone once they’ve left your home, the state, or the country (there’s a lot of potential use here for AirBnB users).
How It Works
The August Smart Lock doesn’t use your home WiFi. Instead, it uses a Bluetooth connection that can be accessed when you lock or unlock your door (or when someone else does). The actual device runs using AA batteries, and the developers of the August Smart Lock expect the batteries to last approximately six months before the battery power runs out. The free app that comes with the August Smart Lock also displays current battery power, so you’ll easily know when the batteries have to be replaced.
The developers behind the August Smart Lock don’t want the lock to be dependant on anything in your home (wifi or otherwise) in case something inside of your home fails. This way, you can always access your home locks simply through Bluetooth and a smartphone.
The biggest issue with the August Smart Lock (currently) is that the company doesn’t really provide a solution for a dead phone. If your phone dies, the assumption is that you won’t be able to unlock the lock, and that could be an issue. That said, spokespeople for the August Smart Lock have told press that the locks will work with “other devices” in the near future, but what those devices might be are yet to be noted.
The other possible problem here is that phones can be hacked, and, logically, so can your home through your phone. The August Smart Lock is still in beta mode, but you can buy the lock for $199 when it does finally launch (no launch date has been set yet).