August Smart Lock Creates a Virtual Doorman
One of the most striking companies unveiled at the D11: AllThings D conference produces a new smart lock called "August." It makes any deadbolt into a digital "virtual doorman," allowing users to give a "virtual key" to allow access to their home for set hours of time.
A perfect example of the rising trend of "the Internet of things," the lock connects directly to smartphones, so not only does it seamlessly unlock the door for approved visitors as they near it, but it also opens the door for homeowners, allowing them to enter without having to pull keys out of their pockets.
The lock—which can be installed inside a deadbolt in just 10 minutes—will go on sale for $199 later this year, and the company is starting to accept preorders at August.com.
August's co-creator Yves Behar, who designed Jawbone's products, said the smart lock has some "magical features ... and some of the best user interfaces are the ones which are invisible." Authentication occurs via Bluetooth, to automatically give homeowners access as they near. If it's open, a tap turns it green to lock or unlock.
As for security concerns, CEO Jason Johnson said the lock is only connected to your phone, and it doesn't rely on power, Wi-Fi, DSL or a cable connection.
"It needs to work under all circumstances," Johnson said. "We actually use the same technology banks do on your mobile phone—two layers of security."
Behar added, "It's a lot safer than keys that can be easily copied or door codes that can be passed around, a level of safety that people really have not experienced yet."
With the success of the Nest smart thermostat, the market for affordable Internet-connected devices is growing. And this looks like the beginning of a push to make it as easy to unlock your front door as it is to click open a car.
_ By CNBC's Julia Boorstin. Follow her on Twitter: @JBoorstin