21st-Century Home Security for the Masses

What is a person supposed to do when they reach the front door and the keys are MIA? In the past, you might have looked under a rock for backup or called someone. Today, the world is becoming more reliant on gadgets for everything. A small company has come up with a 21st-century solution to this dilemma — possibly making the traditional key obsolete.


Lockitron has developed a system that allows people to open a deadbolt using a smartphone. It’s a logical step in the evolution of keyless entry access, but also a device the company hadn’t been able to market. When the Lockitron creators received a less enthusiastic response from crowdfunding site Kickstarter, they decided to take their innovative idea a different direction.

To gauge the potential of the project, they started a website to take pre-orders. They met the initial goal of $150,000 within the first 24 hours. Days later, they were an Internet success with more than a million in pending orders.

Smartphones are Automating Homes

Auto-locks will be the next step in a progression toward home automation using smart technology. From appliance management to environmental controls to in-house plant maintenance, smartphone apps are taking over the household. Some of these locks use a remote keypad to open the door or a toggle button like cars. The Lockitron device is different. It picks up the signal from a phone and unlocks the door automatically when it’s close enough.

The Goji Smart Lock goes a step further and combines other security features with the Lockitron. The device snaps an image of the user, for example, and has a display that reads information from the digital key like an assigned name. The system works with a Bluetooth connection.

A Unikey, a small and easy-to-use keyboard for Windows, also takes keyless entry even further than Goji. This novel lock reads your fingerprint to open the door. Users simply touch it, and it recognizes you.

DIY Security

Homeowners reluctant to sign a security contract have more options than ever. Options for DIY home security offer surveillance, alarms and wireless technology without a long commitment. You can set up ways to manage things around the house yourself utilizing your phone. For example, secure your computer to keep prying eyes out when you’re away from the keyboard. With the proper set up, you can unlock the system with Bluetooth and access the files remotely to.

It’s possible to build your own Bluetooth lock that allows you to enter a PIN code into your phone to open the door. It requires building a specialized mechanism that uses Arduino, an open-source electronics prototyping platform, a power supply and a few other components. It’s not as fancy as Lockitron, but it does get the job done.

Is It Safe?

At this point, the smart reader is wondering what keeps a hacker from opening an auto-lock. These devices work using cryptographic keys and near-field communication. That means the phone has to be close to the lock to disengage.

Keyless entry has been around for cars since the ’80s. Smartphones are bring this technology to the masses, so you may never have to worry about losing keys again.

About the Author: Raymond Gruber is either in the garage tinkering with his solar generator and electric car, or online researching clean energy resources. Freelance writing allows him to combine his love of learning and research with making a difference in the clean energy movement.

Image by Lee Haywood pursuant to the terms of his Creative Commons license.

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