A person holding a smartphone with the digital key up to the smart lock on the front door.

As the years roll by, technology begins to seep into every nook and cranny of our day-to-day lives. Driverless cars are already on the horizon, but now we’re looking at the arrival of the new way to keep our homes secure: the smart lock.

Smart locks, like Kwikset’s Kevo, first began to appear on the scene in 2013. By using a lock like a Kevo, your smartphone transmits the key to your home via Bluetooth from your pocket- you simply have to touch the lock with your phone to access your home. Moreover, an Internet connection allows you to control and monitor the lock when you’re away from your home; you’ll be able to see the face of anybody who comes to your front door, for example.

How do smart locks work?

As downloadable apps, the software used to power these smart keys will be stored in the cloud, ready to run on iOS and Android operating systems when needed. Cloud technology is already massively influential in our daily lives. It’s looking like soon, the cloud will become even more influential. Undoubtedly, the digital nature of ‘smart key’ technology will be subject to intense scrutiny. Security is likely to rate highly as a concern shared by many- how can we be sure that our homes are as safe with a smart key as they are with a traditional lock and key?

What are the pros and cons?

There are benefits to using a smart key, however. Speaking to the BBC about smart locks, Candace Nelson suffers from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and has found her condition significantly easier to manage since installing a smart key.

Nelson has commented that in the past, she’s returned home mid-journey to ensure her door was locked, unable to concentrate on anything else until she’s double-checked that her home is secure. ‘Being able to just look at my phone and feel that sense of comfort really helps put me at ease,’ she has commented.

That being said, there are potential risks associated with smart lock technology. Domestic abuse charity, Refuge, has previously stated that electronic keys can be used as a form of coercion and control by domestic abusers and ex-partners.

Discussing Amazon’s internet-connected security device, ‘Kate’ told the BBC that when her partner left the house, he started using the Ring doorbell camera to track her movements.

The doorbell triggers alerts when it detects motion, and streams live footage to a mobile device. ‘Kate’ commented, ‘I could take the battery out of it if I wanted to, but I didn’t feel like I could because he would say to me, “You’re compromising our children’s safety.” I was worried that he would go to the police and suggest that I’m a bad mother.’ ‘Kate’s’ experience is just one of the ways in which smart lock technology could be exploited by abusers to curtail the freedoms of their respective partners.

Whilst electronic locks are set to revolutionise domestic life, research would have to be made into the ways in which they can be optimised to guarantee the safety of its users.

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