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What light bulbs and thermostats were to the smart home in 2014, connected locks are shaping up to be in 2015 — basically, they are the big connected gadget people are adding to their networks. Already, we’ve seen the entry of big brands such as Kwikset, Yale and Schlage, as well as smaller startups such as August Locks, Goji and Lockitron. On Wednesday we’re getting one more with Sesame, a $149 Bluetooth-based lock launching with a Kickstarter campaign priced at $89 for the first 500 locks and then $99 for the next 500 locks.
The Sesame lock is worth a look, especially for renters, because it’s the closest I’ve seen to the original Lockitron design that just slips over the existing deadbolt to install. Of course, that design had some problems for Lockitron — on some locks it caused the bolts to slam into the door jamb too hard or wore out the mechanism too quickly, according to Lockitron co-founder Cameron Roberts, who spoke to me about those issues back in January ahead of Lockitron announcing a new design and its own $99 base lock. It’s possible the Sesame could experience similar problems with its design.
However, for those concerned about price (other connected door locks can cost between $175 to $250) or in-depth installations (installing a full lock replacement can take about 30 minutes or as little as 10 for a deadbolt replacement design like the August or Danalock) the Sesame has a lot to offer. Che-ming Ku, the founder of Candy House, which makes the Sesame, is also pledging to ship in May — that’s pretty soon and could either be a sign of confidence in his manufacturing or incredible hubris.
Ku said via email that he plans to ship at least 5,000 units per month and hopes to get early feedback before shipping all of the locks. This sounds suspiciously like beta or preview hardware to me, so if you aren’t willing to be a hardware guinea pig, perhaps you should wait for the lock to hit retail stores. Ku plans to initially sell the Sesame on Amazon and eBay and then branch out to the usual suspects of Apple Stores, Home Depots and Best Buys.
For those who are interested, here’s how the lock works. After you pop it on over your lock, it operates using Bluetooth, allowing you to open your door using the app running on your phone or via a special knock on the phone or on your door. Ku decided not to enable the automatic unlock feature when you’re near the lock that some other lock makers offer because he didn’t think it was secure. You can also continue to use your keys.
The lock comes with a lithium battery that lasts about 500 days. You can pick up replacement batteries in stores or order them on Amazon. You can also buy a Wi-Fi bridge that will connect your lock to your home network and offer remote capabilities, such as seeing if your door is locked from outside your home. The bridge-and-lock package costs $139 (it will retail for $199), and I like how the design doesn’t appear to block both outlets.
Like other locks, the app notifies you of the comings and goings in your home and lets you offer invites to people. My current smart locks are radio-enabled onl, so there’s no app that lets me offer other people access to my house when I’m not there unless I give them a code to punch in or they call and I trigger the lock from my app. I think guest access is a pretty nice touch, which is why August, Lockitron, Sesame and the newer generation of locks are so compelling.
So keep an eye out for Sesame, although be warned, that this is a Kickstarter and still appears pretty experimental for the initial backers.