New August Smart Lock is Cool Key to Home, Social Life


Approximately twice a year, I change my locks. Not for added security, or because a romance flamed out—but because my boyfriend I and forget our keys, lock ourselves out of our burglar-barred home, and he breaks the door to get us back inside. One repaired door jam and new deadbolt later, we’re back in business. It seems to work out alright in the end, when we let our landlord know we “upgraded” the locks again, but I can’t help but think that there’s a better system for us.

Cue the launch of August, the new smart lock that debuts today at the D: All Things Digital conference in Rancho Palos Verdes. Created by August co-founders, tech entrepreneur Jason Johnson and designer Yves Behar, the virtual security system is set to transform your relationship with your keys.

The sleek little smart lock, $199, is approximately the circumference of a coffee cup (and half as deep), and installs easily onto the indoor side of your door’s deadbolt. Once your phone app is synced, you can set it up for seamless entry into your home whenever you approach the door. Even better, in my opinion, is the virtual key feature, which allows you to securely send entry to anyone you like, via encrypted SMS or email. Creator Johnson says the entire idea sprang from a scratched screen on his phone. “For hundreds of years, we’ve been carrying these sharp metal objects in our pockets,” he says, which cued his brainstorm to make a better key. 

You can send “keys” to your dog walker, housekeeper, trusted UPS guy or the group of friends that’s coming over for the backyard barbeque. It’s also a game-changer for the Airbnb crowd, leaving out the messy key exchange portion of greeting new guests. The app gives you a fair amount of control: You can set entry times and date ranges, control the type of access that certain people have and set repeating appointments, as well as view invite lists, guest books and the status of who has come and gone. 

In a graceful throwback, the lock uses AA batteries, so it still works when the power goes out. Little chimes and LED indicators let you know when the door is locked or unlocked. The device is also WiFi-free and works via Bluetooth, so a lack of connectivity, as in the case of remote country cabins or beach houses, for example—is no big deal. 

There are also social aspects, which include uploading photos, leaving comments (“I watered your fern”) and rsvping for events. Overall, it has tons of features for a new-to-market product. They make it mighty attractive, but I’m most excited about saving $70 each time I’m not calling a locksmith or repairing a broken door jam.

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