Your smartphone has advanced security, why shouldn't your front door? Startup August is aiming to change that, with its Smart Lock security system replacing your traditional deadbolt with one that can be controlled from your smartphone, including allowing temporary or permanent guest access for visitors, dog walkers, or babysitters.
The Smart Lock uses Bluetooth LE (low energy) to connect with a nearby smartphone, with "virtual keys" that can be kept to the homeowner, or shared out with others. Each of those share invitations can be optionally time-limited, so that visitors only get access when the homeowner wants them to.
August - a collaboration between Yves Behar (who also designed the OUYA) and Jason Johnson - is said to work with 90-percent of home lock systems in the US, and take a couple of minutes with some screwdriver handiwork to fit. There's no WiFi connection or external power needed, so even if the electricity goes out the door is still secure. A standard key means that, even if the batteries are flat, you can still get in.
The Smart Lock will automatically ping out a message to you whenever a guest enters and exits, and entry permission can be removed at any time. The control on the inside - which rotates to lock and unlock manually - has a built-in LED indicator to show lock and permissions status, and also makes different noises depending on whether it's locking or unlocking.
As for the app, that can be used to send out invitations individually or to a group, and a guestbook can be used to leave notes for visitors or for them to add messages back.
It's all part of a growing effort to make home security more technologically advanced, at the same time bringing the functionality down from what have historically been high price points. August isn't the only company doing smart locking systems; AT&T, for instance, rolled out a 15-market trial of its Digital Life service last month, which includes lock control as well as CCTV and water leak monitoring.
August expects the Smart Lock to begin shipping later in 2013. It's up for preorder now, priced at $199; there are no ongoing fees for the "core functionality" August says.