Lock maker Schlage released a new app allowing smartphone owners to unlock their homes without a traditional metal key, adding to the number of ways in which people can control household items with mobile technology.
The Colorado Springs-based company said its new technology, called “LiNK,” works by sending a signal from a smartphone to a house lock, which is controlled by wireless signal inside a home’s Internet connection.
Schlage isn’t the first company to announce home control technology using smartphones. Apigy’s Lockitron system also lets users lock and unlock their doors remotely, by using a wired connection with an Ethernet cord and electronic lock. Schlage’s system eliminates the cords and wires that Lockitron uses, however, there are additional costs involved, due to special locks.
Like any other technology, LiNK has some drawbacks. For one, homeowners must punch in numbers and codes to unlock the door, which takes more time. In addition, if a user’s cell phone runs out of power, they may be locked out of the house.
Remote key services have already found their way into the hospitality industry. InterContinental Hotel Groups, which owns Holiday Inn, tested wireless technology to open doors for guests. With OpenWays, a user can open a hotel door by pointing his cell phone at it, eliminating the need for keys or electronic keycards.
Schlage’s system doesn’t have to be next to the door to open it. LiNK lets homeowners open doors remotely for a friend or relative or lock it while away from home.
Just last month, Google announced its new Android@Home service, which allows owners to use the mobile devices as universal remotes for their homes’ electronic devices. Android@Home also includes a wireless home lighting network so homeowners can control their lighting virtually, as well as creating a wireless home theater system.
However, unlike Google’s new system, which works only on Android phones, Schlage’s system works on other mobile platforms as well. This means iPhones, among other devices, will be able to unlock doors remotely.