The days of carting around a jumble of keys are coming to a close, thanks to new technology for home access controls in the form of keyless, cellphone-enabled locks for residences. Millions of people, all over the world, use the key-and-lock solution for safeguarding their homes every day. But today’s keys have gone electric, thanks to the evolution of smartphone.

The keyless lock is a trend that shows no sign of letting up. Industry analysts at Strategy Analytics predict that smart lock unit sales will more than triple from 1 million in 2014 to 2019, growing at a CAGR of 27 percent, reports ADT, who provided SDM with this information.

These numbers may mean more security companies are integrating door locks with their security panels/systems, and this integration steps outside of the traditional “security only” concept. It certainly has an appealing “wow” factor: who doesn’t want to ditch the late-night key fumble? Experts say consumers are driving this trend as they hunt for ways to integrate technology in their homes.

 “One of the largest changes that is happening is end-consumer awareness of connected door locks, and along with it, higher expectations that it’s available in dealer offerings,” says Keith Brandon, director of residential access for Kwikset, Lake Forest, Calif. This awareness equals more opportunities for providers of home access technology, he adds.

Modern Day Convenience

“With some estimates saying that over 160 million people in the United States own a smartphone, wireless technologies like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are more ubiquitous than ever,” says Donnie Beene, Schlage, Carmel, Ind., product manager, residential security electronics. And what’s a smartphone without an app to go with it?

Keyless, Cellphone-Enabled
Locks: Who’s New in the Market?

As you may have guessed, there are a lot of recent players in the market — Kevo, Bitlock, Lockitron, UniKey, Goji, KISI, ECKey, Smart Knob and August Smart Lock are a few of the innovative start-ups launching in the space. August was recently named as a partner for Apple Home Kit, which will generate a lot of buzz and visibility for smart, high-design doorlocks. August started shipping its first locks at the end of August 2014 for $199.*

*Information provided Ryan Petty, vice president of product for ADT

Beene told SDMhe has found reports showing that app marketplaces have sold more than 125 billion phone apps, so “it’s easy to observe how consumers are becoming savvy about the apps and people are definitely looking closely at what they are buying,” he adds. “There was a time when phone apps let users make their digital life easier to manage. In the last couple of years, users have begun looking to phone apps to make their physical life easier to manage — and that includes their home security,” Beene notes.

Consumers Want It All

As the price of phone-operated locks decreases, the demand for this new class of locks will surely follow the upward increase in smartphone usage, making keyless, cell-phone enabled locks something worth examining in the industry, say multiple industry experts.

“More and more large-scale, connected platform providers are emerging and entering the connected home space, creating intense competition; along with that comes mass consumer access, marketing efforts, and advertising,” Brandon explains, adding that there are multiple studies that highlight the fact that security is, in many cases, the primary purchasing criterion in a smart home installation.

“It’s becoming the norm for consumers to have a broad array of connected devices to choose from, with the core security, convenience, and peace-of-mind benefits that door locks provide being at or near the top of the list,” Brandon says. “Door locks are an interesting connected device because they can seamlessly blend and serve both the security and the connected/automated home interests.”

According to Ryan Petty, vice president of product development & innovation for ADT, Boca Raton, Fla., there are multiple reasons impacting this trend. Among them, electronic locks are now connected more seamlessly to smartphones (allowing permissions to others, for example); the form factor is getting more high-design; prices are decreasing; the installation process is increasingly accessible to the average person; and the general awareness of home automation is rising with the entrance of big players such as AT&T, Google, Apple and Samsung. 

The installation of these services can be found in new construction and residential retrofit. Guardian Protection Services Inc., Warrendale, Pa., has been offering these types of solutions since 2011, but even though there is success, there are challenges, warns John Piroli, Guardian’s northern region director.

“One of the primary challenges to growth in new construction — and it is the same for a few other home automation (Z-Wave) products — is the warranty that the builder offers on the new home,” Piroli says. “The builder already contracts with trusted vendors to perform this work. There is hesitancy, due to the implications of the builder’s warranty, for the builder to allow a security systems company to take over these installations.”

3 Fears Versus Reality; Questions Answered by the Experts

Question: I’m nervous about using technology to open my front door. What if the cell tower is down? There is a power outage (no electricity)? Your phone battery dies?
Petty: The lock is a battery-operated device which can still be operated using the lock’s keypad, or in the event the lock’s batteries also die, by key. (SDMEditor’s note: Don’t throw that rock!)

Question:Aren’t these hard to install?
Brandon: The reality is that door locks are very simple to install and fit the vast majority of customers’ doors quite seamlessly. We find that once a dealer has been trained and has seen them installed in the field, most of the feedback seems to be, ‘wow, that was pretty easy.’

Question: How do dealers find success? 
Beene:The most successful dealers will be the ones who are familiar with multiple cellphone-enabled lock solutions and can demonstrate their use. Equipped with that knowledge, dealers can help customers find the solution that will meet their needs. The key to success is for dealers to help customers experience how these solutions can simplify their lives and how easy they are to use.

He adds, for Guardian, “our most successful and profitable means of offering this type of residential access control is when the builder requires that his locksmith or lock vendor specify a Z-Wave-based lock as a standard or as an option.”

For retrofits, Guardian offers keyless cellphone-enabled locks as extensions of other automation systems such as thermostats and lighting. “We offer the product and service solely in conjunction with our monitored home security system, and with the increasing level of consumer awareness surrounding home automation, we are doing fairly well with it,” Piroli says.

Guardian sells and installs Kwikset keyless locks and then enables the service through or Honeywell Total Connect in conjunction with the newly released VAM (Vista Automated Module).

Yale Locks & Hardware, Berlin, Conn., announced this past summer its next generation of key-free Z-Wave® deadbolts with the introduction of new pushbutton and touchscreen models. These deadbolts, like others of its kind, can be accessed remotely with a smartphone.

“Since we introduced our first key-free products we’ve seen strong consumer demand for that product,” Jason Williams, general manager, Yale Residential, states in a company news release. “That strong acceptance is driven by two forces: consumer recognition of the enhanced security that comes with the absence of a cylinder and dealer support because of the ease of installation.”

At the end of the day, the convenience of keyless, cellphone-enabled locks is something most consumers are willing to pay for, says Brandon. “It’s becoming the norm for consumers to have a broad array of connected devices to choose from, with the core security, convenience, and peace-of-mind benefits that door locks provide being at or near the top of the list,” he adds.

 Petty agrees that consumers shopping for a home security system want to see keyless locks in the package. “In a recent product development survey, respondents ranked the ability to control door locks remotely from a smartphone so as to open the door for others when they are away as the most important ‘smart’ add-on to a home security system [ORC 2014],” he says. “There is a clear value proposition and compelling use case for this capability, especially for busy people on the go, versus other smart home devices.”