Bluetooth Locks are Being Released by Many Lock Manufactures. Are They Needed?
Locks just keep getting smarter and smarter. But what is needed vs what is too much?
For the past year, lock manufactures have been releasing deadbolts that can be opened via Bluetooth devices. And Master Lock has just released a padlock that can be opened via Bluetooth.
But are these devices worth it or are they just looking to jump on a technology that is currently a hot buzzword with consumers? Here’s ACME Locksmith’s thoughts.
Bluetooth locking devices tout the following benefits:
- No need for keys
- Share electronic access (via electronic key codes) with someone needing access right away
- Some offer access history and tamper alerts
I acknowledge, I like these benefits. But with a list price over $400 is it worth it? Especially when you consider that electronic deadbolts are less than half that price and offer the SAME benefits as the Bluetooth devices. Electronic deadbolts offer Keyless entry, temporary pin codes or pin codes that can be easily removed, and in some cases (depending on the lock manufacture) tamper alerts and access history.
Our main concern with the Bluetooth home deadbolts lie within the technology itself. Bluetooth is a proximity based technology. That is, when your Bluetooth device is near the Bluetooth lock, the lock can be opened by anyone. So, if you just got home, entered the home and locked the door behind you, it is technically possible that someone behind you can then simply open the door because your Bluetooth device is near the lock. Thus the lock will offer NO PROTECTION. The home deadbolt manufactures are implementing technology that allows the lock to sense whether the Bluetooth device is outside or inside the home, but just how good this technology is has yet to be tested. Does the Bluetooth device need to be several feet inside the home??? Or is 2 feet sufficient??? Many of the deadbolts offer a calibration feature to improve the sensing of the device. How much at risk are you if you skip the calibration step? As a locksmith and security professional,these are our concerns, and we’ll wait until the technology has demonstrated itself secure before recommending it.
The new Master Lock Bluetooth padlock is more reasonably priced at around $70 (list price), and doesn’t have the same proximity security risk that the deadbolts do since they will typically be used on gates and noticing someone is possible since no door restricts your view causing a false sense of security. But, they too can be as much as 3X a good combination padlock offering many of the same benefits.
If the proximity technology proves safe, I like the idea of Bluetooth locks once the price comes down, but currently the additional benefits to justify such a large price increase (over a more proven electronic deadbolt or simply a combination padlock) just isn’t there in ACME Locksmith’s opinion. Save your money. With time, pricing will come down, the technology improved, and the Bluetooth locks will be more attractive.