To convince users to swap the traditional security of the physical lock/key combo for the convenience of smart locks, vendors must overcome a series of insecurities and reservations that consumers have about securing their homes and offices with such devices. The following are 8 things that need to happen before smart locks move into the mainstream.
1. Proper hybridization between traditional and smart locks must occur.
Right now, offerings are pretty much an all-or-nothing proposition. But what if a hacker spots a smart lock-secured home and is able to compromise its security? What if smartphone access to the smart lock fails due to either user error or a software bug? The front door is all that separates the safety and security of one’s home from the outside world. Subsequently, potential smart lock adopters are overwhelmingly concerned with the inherent dangers of digitization.
Smart lock products must not look overtly like digitized devices—they should mimic standard locks so as not to draw unwanted attention. And in the event that smartphone or app control is lost, the smart lock must allow for operation with a standard key as a fallback measure.
2. More customization options must become available.
Many home and property owners see their houses and buildings as extensions of themselves—it is, in fact, where they spend most of their lives. As the threshold to the inner sanctum of the home, the front door carries significant emotional weight to homeowners and residents. It is all that separates one’s home life from the outside world, and all that enter the home must pass through it.
Smart locks must therefore complement the front door, not detract or alter the character of the home entrance. Additionally they must allow for more customization to match the décor and trimmings of the structure or building as well as their personal tastes/sensibilities. Current offerings for the most part limited in this respect.
3. They must become easier to install and use.
Current offerings don’t quite hit the mark in the ease-of-use department. Smart lock solutions must be as easy to install and use as conventional locks, as any number of people with varying technical proficiency may use it ( e.g., the janitor, housekeeper, or grandma)—even better if smart lock installation could be rendered a simple DIY affair. Since traditional lock installation is seen as a specialized skill set relegated to locksmiths, smart locks that can be easily self-installed would be highly disruptive.
4. They must reap the full benefits of connectivity
Smart locks are more than just a replacement of the standard lock and key. Connectivity should expand and enhance the functionality of the traditional lock with features such as access monitoring/logging in the cloud and remote unlocking via the web, among others. Communications and data transmission must also be secure and encrypted. And as mission-critical devices, smart locks must be endowed with extended battery life and perhaps allow for some alternate fallback forms of charging such as solar or kinetic motion.
5. They must become more efficient and save users time and/or money.
As a new alternative to an age-old contraption, the smart lock should provide consumers with enough incentives and value propositions to leave the conventional lock and key combo behind. Google Nest’s smart thermometers, for example, save consumers significant amounts of money in heating costs due to their predictive analysis of user behavior. The smart lock must aspire to more than being a trendy replacement for the traditional lock and key; it must accomplish the primary task of securing the home better than its analog counterpart.
6. More integration into the smart home ecosystem must occur.
Integration into the smart home ecosystem is where it’s at, especially in the context of home security. For example, in the event of an intrusion or compromise attempt, the smart lock must trigger the security system and turn on the house lights. Other features such as video recording and monitoring through an integrated peephole camera, automated answering through an embedded microphone and speaker, and scheduled locking and unlocking are a few features that make smart locks a critical component of the secure, smart home ecosystem.
7. Insurers must be on-board with smart lock / keyless technologies.
Smart locks have more potential points of failure than their physical counterparts; subsequently, not all home and rental property insurance providers are readily on-board with keyless and smart lock technologies. Users are well advised to check their policy details to ensure that smart lock installation does not violate their coverage terms.
8. Smart lock standards must emerge to support open/inter-operability.
Smart lock adoption should not result in vendor lock-in. Standards must emerge to support the use of smart locks across smart home ecosystems. For example, a Google Nest-powered home ecosystem should support any given number of smart lock vendors.
The aforementioned are just a few challenges that digital technologies must overcome before users trust them to secure the front door. At the risk of sounding repetitive, the most obvious but challenging roadblock is security: digital devices are highly prone to being compromised (indeed, a few years back researchers revealed that millions of Kwikset Smartkey Locks were vulnerable to be exploited).