Security is a big issue, but it has taken a surprisingly long time for technology to help make it better. Fortunately, there are now a range of options available that make locks a whole lot smarter. And it’s not just for your home either - digital locks range from deadbolts, to padlocks and even USB drives.
Digital locks have some key advantages over their boring mechanical counterparts. For a start, you don’t need to actually pull out a key.
Opening methods include bluetooth, RFID, fingerprint scanning and passcodes.
While not being able to forget a key is always nice, the real advantages comes from online connectivity.
Using management apps, digital keys can be sent to other people. Access can be controlled online, and usage times tracked.
With some locks, you can also create special smart digital keys, they only work at specific times.
Another advantage is that digital locks can use extremely hard to break AES 256-bit encryption. By doing away with a physical key, it means they can’t be picked.
While smart locks still have a ways to go in terms of usability, there are already loads of great options.
Smart locks are all well and good, but it’s not always possible to retrofit them to existing setups. To create a more flexible solution to an age old security issue, Dog and Bone have built a smart bluetooth padlock.
Well, two actually - the LockSmart and the LockSmart Mini. Both work the same, but the smaller mini is good for cramped spaces where a chunkier lock is not needed.
The LockSmart doesn’t use a physical key - instead relying on a smartphone, an app and Bluetooth.
We tested out the LockSmart and found that it’s not really any easier or harder than using a normal key. Operation is pretty seamless (once set up), and the lock itself is good for about 2 years, or 3000 opens.
If it is running low on power, you will get an app warning that it’s time to charge the lock via USB. Despite all the electronics, the LockSmart is fully weatherproof and fine to use outside.
The real advantage of the LockSmart system is the ability to share, track and control the use of digital keys.
For example, you can share a digital key that gives someone else the ability to open the lock. That access can also be removed at any time.
The app also allows tracking of who has used the locked, as well as the time and date of access.
It also means that it’s pretty easy to manage multiple locks through the one app.
There is something particularly frustrating about having to dig out keys all the time to open up your own house.
Maybe it’s just us, but for some reason it seems a lot easier to forget keys rather than a smartphone.
The Quickset Kevo does away with at least some of these annoyance but turning your house door deadbolt digital.
The lock uses a smartphone and bluetooth to do the unlocking, but you don’t actually need to fire up the app each time.
Instead, the Kevo monitors the outer metal body of the lock. If you touch it, the lock checks for the required digital key, and unlocks if it’s nearby. The lock itself also has an electric motor inside, so it actually physically pulls back the deadbolt.
For those without a smartphone, or who don’t want to leave Bluetooth enabled, the Kevo also has a key fob that lets the lock know it's ok to open.
As a backup, the Kevo also has a normal keyhole, and keys, that work no matter what the digital side of the lock is up to.
One advantage of the Kevo is that it can be retrofitted into an existing deadbolt hole. This is important, as it means renters can install the lock, then remove it and replace the original if they move.
The other advantage of the Kevo is that you can share digital keys through the app, and track and manage access.
For example, you could create a special key that gives tradies access to your home during the day, but not at night, or on the weekends.
The Kevo lock can be bought at retailers such as Bunnings, for around $215.
For more information on the Kevo, and the install process, check out the rundown over at Gizmodo.
Rather than relying on bluetooth, or even RFID cards, the Samsung Smart lock opts for fingerprint scanning.
In use, it can scan and recognise up to 100 different fingers and unlock in under a second. As a backup, the lock also has a keypad, and can handle 10 different passwords.
Just to make sure, the Samsung lock also has a traditional key hole, and comes with 5 keys.
The lock actually comes in a few different versions, such as a cheaper model that exchanges fingerprint scanning for RFID, and a compact deadbolt version.
The high end lock costs $699, while the cheaper home deadbolt model is just $299.
The locks can be bought from a number of retailers, but check out the range at Bunnings.
With the aim to ensure you never get locked out again, the Covetek BioDoor offers three modes of entry.
The first is through fingerprint scanning. The lock can hold up to 99 different fingerprints, and designate up to four as ‘masters’ that can control the locks programming.
It also has an RFID scanner, and can handle 99 swipe cards.
Just in case neither of these are available for some reason, the lock also has a mechanical override key.
Importantly, it does not store any actual fingerprints in the lock - just encrypted points of significance. This means you fingerprints can never be compromised and used elsewhere.
Smart locks to protect your house, shed or bike are all well and good, but what about securing data?
The Kingston DataTraveller 2000 offers a new form of digital encryption for a flash drive.
Sure, anyone can encrypt files on a flash drive, but the process is not always convenient.
What the DataTraveller does is provide a physical alphanumeric keypad to enter a password to unlock the drive.
The drive then uses hardware based AES 256 bit encryption to keep your files secure.
The drive locks automatically when unplugged, and you have to enter a user selectable 7 - 15 digital password to unlock it.
If someone tries to unlock it 10 times with the wrong password, all data is wiped. There isn’t a recovery option either, so don’t forget the code.
The drive comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB capacities, costing around up to $250 for the largest size.
Do you use a digital smart lock? Tell us about your experiences in the comments.