On April 27th, 2015 a startup called Candy House Inc. secured more than 1.4 million dollars in Kickstarter funding for its new smart lock device. To be fair not only Sesame. Recently quite a few IoT startups have been competing against each which one will reinvent the very basic and most widely used security system in the world— the lock.
Does this mean that soon we will all become very smart about locking and unlocking our doors? Probably just a handful of us. While tens of thousands of pre-orders and millions of dollars raised indicate a market for such devices, these numbers comprise a tiny tiny fraction of all the locks sold worldwide. Nevertheless, as this segment is getting traction, let’s compare some of the most interesting smart locks available.
First, how can locks be smart? A common feature what makes them smart is a power to lock and unlock doors remotely via a smartphone or (less commonly) a wearable devices like the Apple Watch. All of the 6 locks in our list share this feature. Additionally, all of them lets you to give out virtual keys to your family and friends from anywhere, anytime.
All of them, except Haven, builds upon your existing deadbolt lock but are relatively easy to install. To use August and Goji you will to need replace some parts of the deadbolt lock you have, while Sony’s Qrio, Lockiton and Sesame simply sticks onto your door and works without any additional tinkering. 3M tape is a miracle after all.
Haven is not technically a lock but an additional doorstep which prevents your door from opening. While it’s certainly a very interesting concept, probably it was it’s unorthodox design which prevented Haven from reaching its funding goal on Kickstarter. Though we all know that crowd-funding campaigns depend on luck and timing.
Price & availability
Others can only be pre-ordered. By pre-ordering Sesame and Lockitron one can save some cash, but patience* might be necessary.
*Our experience on the matter: we’ve pre-ordered our first Lockitron in 2014. Still waiting..
Initial interest can be misleading, however it’s a good indicator of what is likely to stay popular. Being popular within the Internet of Things universe is important, because popular means that other teams (e.g. IFTTT, Smart Things, Wink) are likely to integrate that device into their ecosystems. Being part of a broader ecosystem always leads to better user experience.
There are 3 winners here. Lockitron and Sesame have won most affectionados on Kickstarter. August chose a different yet also very successful path and from the beginning partnered with Apple.
We might also think of Qrio as a success given that they launched campaign exclusively in Japan and still raised a substantial amount of capital. Therefore, it is very likely that if they had chosen an international platform, the impact would have been larger.
Goji and Haven weren’t as successful. We guess that their geekiness and unusual form factors are a bit ahead of their time.
Social media reactions
People who follow companies on social media either bought their products or are aspirational customers. Noticeably low number of aspirational users among all startups on their social media channels suggest that smart locks are still a niche product category. For comparison, Nest (a Google company which makes smart thermostats) have more than 300,000 Facebook fans and 140,000 Twitter followers.
It is relatively easy to install all of the smart locks. Qrio, Lockitron and Sesame function as robots that lock/ unlock your existing deadbolt lock, so one just needs to mount directly them on their door without disassembling existing lock (you can see pictures bellow).
August and Goji require a bit of tinkering. One has to remove some parts of their existing lock and replace them with included mounting adaptors. We bought August, but we couldn’t install in properly as it turned out that the included adaptor is too short for Korean locks.
Haven chose different form factor, thus different installation process. It is has to be screwed in front of a door step and when activated works as a barrier that prevents doors from opening.
How we failed to install August
We purchased August, however we failed with the installation process. The way August works is that it has to be mounted on a metal plate and then rotate the yellow plastic thingy (see in picture), hence the yellow thing rotates, it locks and unlocks the deadbolt mechanism. Easy, right? Not so fast! In our case the yellow thingy was too short, so August couldn’t reach it.. Be sure to check this before buying.
Installation as presented by their creators
Get to meet them all!
Don’t take just our word. Bellow you can see intro videos from every company. We hope this Medium post will help you to decided which one is worthy to become the smart lock of your choice.