Have you ever lost your keys and thought, “there has to be a better way?”
In that case, a smart key for your home may be right for you. So, what do you need to know?
A smart key for a house, or a smart lock, is a device that replaces or retrofits your traditional deadbolt lock. Once installed, smart locks allow you to remotely lock or unlock your door with your phone, voice, or even a fingerprint. However, they are relatively new and suffer from specific kinks.
Read on to learn what smart locks are and how they work. Then, keep reading for a rundown of pros and cons to decide if they are right for you.
What Is a Smart Key For?
Smart house keys, more often referred to as smart locks, are a very new and intriguing technology. These locks intend to make your home more secure by giving you more control through network access.
Smart keys are a new technology designed to add another level of security to your home. They do this in a few ways, such as requiring a fingerprint to unlock the door.
But how does it all work?
How Smart Keys Work
When talking about smart devices, the concept ‘Internet of Things’ (or IoT) often gets referred to.
So, what does this mean, and how is it different from the internet? The IoT refers to devices that communicate through a connected network.
Consider smart locks, for instance. One common feature of these devices is notifying the end-user when the door has unlocked, usually via a push notification.
In this case, a sensor in the smart device notices the door open, then sends a message to your phone.
While a human unlocked the door, the lock device itself sent this message autonomously without end-user command.
In other words, the lock talked to your phone without any prompting from a human.
Like I said, the Internet of Things.
What Do Smart Keys Offer?
Smart devices can add higher levels of convenience and efficiency to our daily lives.
Furthermore, smart locks can do things that you could not possibly expect from a regular house key.
Below are some examples of standard smart lock features.
Imagine locking your door by telling Alexa, “Alexa, lock the door.” Voice activation controls make it that simple.
This feature is especially great for seniors or disabled people who would have difficulty walking back and forth to their door.
There are lock manufacturers out there investing in using fingerprint recognition to lock and unlock doors.
As you can imagine, this will add an incredible amount of convenience when it comes to getting into your home.
With this tech, it will be as easy as unlocking your phone.
Have you ever gone on vacation and had to leave a key with your neighbor to check on your pet?
What if you could grant permission to their smartphone without worrying about the handoff at all?
Key permissions allow you to give access to close friends, family, and other trusted parties. They can enter your home safely and securely, and you can revoke the rights at any time should you need to.
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Suppose you need to let someone in your house while you are not home, like a cleaning service, for instance.
In that case, you can schedule a window of time when your door will automatically unlock.
This option is a more suitable alternative when you do not wish to give someone key permissions.
Another great perk of a smart lock is that it can keep track of who comes and goes into your house.
It’s an excellent feature for people with children, so they can be sure they got home on time and safely.
You can usually find this log through the associated smartphone app.
Remote Lock Access
Remote access is excellent for anyone who has ever worried that they left their door unlocked.
We’ve all been there in the past, worried that we didn’t secure our front door before leaving.
As long as your lock has an internet connection, you can lock, unlock, and monitor your front door with your smartphone.
Auto-lock is another great asset for those in the ‘did I lock my door?’ club.
This feature automatically locks your door after being closed for a set period.
So, if you leave the house and the door has been closed without movement for a set amount of time (which you can dictate), it will lock automatically.
As you can see, smart locks have a lot to offer!
What Makes a Device Smart?
As mentioned above, smart locks exist in a network of devices commonly referred to as the Internet of Things.
While scholars have only recently begun studying these devices, some common themes emerged: context-awareness, autonomy, and connectivity.
We use these standards to define a smart device.
- Context-awareness. Smart devices can pick up and interpret context-specific information, typically through sensors. For instance, some smart locks, like the Level Touch, can unlock with the touch of a finger.
- Autonomy. Another defining smart device feature is the ability to think for itself. If an unauthorized person tried to open your home’s smart lock, the lock would interpret that information and notify the homeowner via their smartphone.
- Connectivity. Lastly, smart devices can connect to other devices through the IoT. While WiFi is a standard connecting network, smart devices can also connect via Bluetooth or a private local network.
In sum, smart locks use these features to enhance the security of the everyday lock.
You may also wonder: Why are smart locks so expensive?
Smart House Key: Pros and Cons
Smart house locks provide a heightened level of convenience and accessibility for homeowners.
However, these benefits come at a price.
You will likely discover that smart locks have strengths and weaknesses that make them more suitable to some homeowners than others.
Smart House Key Pros
The most significant benefit of smart locks is the convenience they offer.
When it comes to performance, smart locks provide features that give you access to your lock anytime, anywhere.
Besides increasing efficiency and accessibility, a smart lock’s enhanced features can make it the center of your home security system.
Those who struggle with keeping track of things will find that smart locks help streamline their routine.
For example, have you ever lost your keys and had to wait for a roommate/family member to come home and open the door?
With a smart lock, as long as your phone is on you and working, you are all set!
Furthermore, while traditional keys are straightforward to use, they can be irritating for some disabled people.
In this case, smart locks offer more options to open a door that are not dependent on hand dexterity.
Additionally, one can operate a smart lock from anywhere, a bonus for people with impaired mobility.
Lastly, smart locks provide broader security than traditional keys.
As IoT expert Martin Heckmann says, “everything is safer than having a spare key under your doormat.”
In terms of permissions and log history, safe locks offer more control and oversight than a traditional house key.
Smart House Key Cons
On the other hand, owning a smart lock is not a purely beneficial experience.
Besides the vulnerabilities that come with any smart device, smart locks also suffer from occasional malfunctions.
Plus, they can be a cumbersome and expensive eyesore on your front door.
Smart devices do not have an excellent reputation when it comes to security.
For instance, the FBI recommends that users separate their smart devices and personal computing devices on two separate networks.
Why do smart devices suffer from security breaches? The short answer is a lack of regulatory oversight. As a result, many manufacturers cut costs when it comes to security audits.
And computer hackers are catching on.
Many hacking occurrences of smart devices happen because the hacker figured out the product’s original factory password. Unfortunately, in the computer security world, this method is a novice technique.
Quality-of-life issues can also occur with this ever-developing technology.
Just ask New York Times contributor Farhad Manjoo. When reviewing August’s smart lock in 2014, Manjoo found the lock’s Bluetooth unlock feature highly inconsistent.
On top of all this, some smart locks are complicated to install and use. While some models retrofit a traditional deadbolt, other smart locks require an expert installation.
Additionally, unless equipped with a conventional failsafe lock, smart locks become unusable when disconnected from their network.
Not to mention, some smart locks are ugly, blocky, attention-stealing monstrosities that may clash with your door’s design.
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Smart keys for a house, otherwise known as smart locks, are brilliant devices in an infantile state of development.
They can offer fantastic remote features that can simplify your day-to-day life.
However, unless you are comfortable with smart technology, you may want to give them a pass.