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Kwikset Kevo: Using your iPhone to lock and unlock doors

Kwikset Kevo Bluetooth Electronic Deadbolt Lock

Life just got a little easier for iPhone owners. Imagine that you're trying to get into your house while carrying a few bags of groceries. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to simply tap the deadbolt lock with a finger to get it to unlock instead of digging through a pocket to get your keys out? For owners of Kwikset's Kevo Bluetooth Electronic Deadbolt Powered by UniKey (US$219), that's not just a dream -- it's reality.

I recently had a chance to test one of the intelligent Bluetooth-enabled locks, and it's probably the best home automation device I've installed. Sure, I can turn lights on and off with a tap on an app or get a notification that my washing machine is overflowing, but Kevo is something everyone in my home can use every single day.

Kevo can be installed either on a new door or as a retrofit for a door that already has a deadbolt installed. I am probably the worst candidate for installing something like this, because I have all of the home improvement skills of a worm. Yet following the excellent instructions, I was able to install the Kevo deadbolt, calibrate it, and start using it in less than 30 minutes.

The box includes all of the Kevo hardware. On the outside of the door is what looks like a standard deadbolt lock -- it actually has a ring of status LEDs built into it, and the outside of the lock is touch-sensitive. On the inside of the house is a small box that contains the electronics, a motor that opens and closes the lock, and an easy to turn manual locking lever. The Kevo comes in all of the standard lock finishes: satin nickel, polished brass, or Venetian bronze.

I'll spare you the details of the installation, but I found it simple to remove the existing deadbolt and install the Kevo. Once I was done, I installed the free Kevo app and was guided through creating an owner account on MyKevo.com. The app and lock require you to have an iPhone 4s or newer, a fifth-generation iPod touch, a third-generation iPad or newer, or any iPad mini. Android support will be available when the

Each Kevo lock comes with at least two eKeys -- these are encrypted electronic keys that are set up with the app. At the present time, new owners can get five extra eKeys for a total of seven. Need to let a friend or contractor have temporary access to your home? You can send them an eKey via email to give them access, then disable that key once they're done with their visit or work. Don't worry; there are also two regular keys you can give to Grandma and Grandpa so they can get into the house.

Those eKeys can have different access levels. The person who sets up the Kevo lock and app first gets owner access; some users can be given admin access so that they can send, edit and delete eKeys and see notifications, and other users can only do two things -- lock or unlock a Kevo deadbolt.

If you install more than one Kevo lock and want one physical key to be able to open both, no problem -- the Kevo deadbolt uses Kwikset's SmartKey re-keying technology. The lock also supplied superior pick resistance (meeting the UL 437, par. 11.6 standard), and bump keys can't be used to break in.

When the lock is set up and a smartphone is running the app and has a valid eKey, you just go through a simple calibration process. This basically involves locking and unlocking the door several times. How do you do that? Touch the outside casing of the lock. It lights up with blue LEDs while contacting your phone, then turns amber when the deadbolt is locked. To unlock, just tap your finger on the casing and the blue LEDs light up again. You hear the bolt turning, and the light goes green. There are other red LED combinations to inform you of when to replace the batteries in the inside "box" of the Kevo.

What happens if I lose my iPhone or it is stolen? As quickly as I can, I need to get to another device with the Kevo app or go to the MyKevo website, log in with my account, and then disable or delete that phone.

Some other niceties of the app include the ability to see a full history of every action associated with a lock. You can get notifications when a specific user opens a certain lock at a particular time, nice if you want to make sure that your petsitter is really dropping by while you're on vacation.

What I like most about the Kwikset Kevo is that it addresses a key issue of Internet-connected door locks from Kwikset and Schlage -- there's a possibility that those locks could be hacked remotely. With the Kevo, you have to be physically present with your device (or a fob or key) to open the door. So although I can't unlock the door for someone halfway across the world with a tap, I can send those people I know and trust an eKey in a few taps.

Conclusion

The world of connected devices is expanding every day, and using your iOS device as an authentication device for locking and unlocking your doors is a wonderful way to introduce yourself and your family to it. Kwikset has made retrofitting your home with Kevo deadbolts amazingly easy (especially if you already have deadbolts installed), and the system works very well. While Kevo is more expensive than a traditional deadbolt lock, the ability to distribute and control eKeys makes it much more versatile.

Rating: 4 stars out of 4 stars possible

Four Star Rating

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