Technology touches nearly every aspect of our lives. Many of the things we do daily and take for granted are thanks to advances in computer-based technology. Yet today, nearly all homes still have nothing more than a bolt lock and door handle keeping them safe. Most of us still use a key to unlock our doors, the same as did our grandparents.
That's changing, though. Finally.
Several systems are on the market to replace (or evolve) the old "bolt lock with a key" forward without requiring a lot of modifications be made to the home. Nearly all of these systems can be installed by the homeowner just as easily as the standard keyed lock can be. Often they're even easier.
One option you've probably seen in your hardware store is the Schlage keypad lock. These have been a popular alternative to key-only locks in commercial applications for years, but are now being seen as a solution for homes as well. They install in much the same way a standard bolt lock does. Other competitors to Schlage are also offering similar options.
These options are evolving forward, though, to include smart phones or keyfobs (or both). The Schlage Connect is the next-generation of the keypad-enabled bolt lock allowing the door to be controlled (locked, unlocked, PIN changed) from afar via a smartphone app.
A similar option from Kevo allows you to use your smartphone as a "keyfob" with the app automatically unlocking the door when the phone gets near. Multiple phones can be used and a keyfob can also be used. Guests can download the app and be granted access for 24 hour periods as well. Automatically. Even if you're not there.
As for security while you're in the house, camera systems are nothing new. They're actually getting very affordable with items like the Swann All-in-One being below $400 as a complete camera security system. The next-generation of these, though, is getting interesting.
A new entry on the block, if that's not too punny, is the Vivint Sky Smart Home. This offers a glimpse into what's likely to be the norm in home automation and security in a few years. The system starts with a doorbell camera that activates and records whenever movement is detected nearby. It also gives voice access and video via a smartphone or internal monitor, so even if you're not home, you can communicate with whomever is there via your phone. You can even unlock the door, if it's equipped with more components from the Vivint system, without being there.
Other components include window sensors, door sensors, motion detectors, other cameras, climate control, and smoke detectors. Each of these can be added (or not) at the homeowner's wish and all are connected so that they can be controlled through a smartphone app or central control pad.
The great news is that other security companies like ADT, Comcast, etc. are doing something similar as well. Some without need for a wireless device or bluetooth. The latest innovations involve facial recognition tech to allow the camera to automatically unlock the door when the person approaching is recognized as authorized. No remotes, no keyfobs, no smartphone, no anything.
Just as many of us are getting used to the idea that we can approach our car, touch the door handle to have it unlock itself, and then start the car with a push of a button - all without once reaching for the key - so are we soon to be getting used to that idea for our homes.