When we start to think about home automation, we start to wonder what can we do with it, how will it help us, and is it worth it to upgrade. One big concept that has made its way to the head of the home automation field is voice-activated commands to help us with our daily tasks. We can ask Alexa or any other automated hub to do a lot of stuff for us, but can it really open doors and lock up our house if we forgot on our way out the door? A bigger question is how safe and secure is it and what happens if a burglar just walks up to my door and tries to tell someone to open our door? So many questions about home automation start to make us a little nervous about using things like this, so I want to take a minute to talk about voice commands for doors and locks to shed some light on just how safe it is for us to use, and give you some real facts before you make the decision to install it, or wait a while.
What are voice-activated systems to open doors? A voice-activated door is a home automation system where you can say the words “Unlock My door”, or “Lock my back door”, and the smart hub or home security will complete your request. There are a few major manufacturers of automated door locks and they consist of Kwikset, August, and Schlage locks that can accept a voice-operated command, or can be hooked to a security system like Vivint to control your locks. Some security systems however like Vivint will only let you unlock your door, and will not let you unlock it for security reasons. These new smart locks can also be hooked up to Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and Apple’s Siri feature to complete tasks for you when it comes to door locks, so there are several different options for you to choose from to accomplish this task. The one key feature that is something to think about is security. There have been some people that are afraid that a would-be attacker or burglar can listen for your commands, and then while you are gone, unlock your door and steal things from your home, so we will touch on this more below.
What Can I say
Automating your door locks can be fairly simple because all you really need is a smart lock, and a virtual assistant to handle the commands. You can also have a smart home HUB control all of your home automation, including the locks. Here is a list of common commands that you can say to affect door locks:
- “Siri, unlock my front door”
- “Siri, unlock my back door”
- “Siri, lock my front door”
- “Siri, lock my back door”
- “Alexa, unlock my patio door”
- “Alexa, unlock my front door”
- “Alexa, unlock my garage door”
- “OK Google, unlock my garage door”
- “OK Google, unlock my front door”
- “OK Google, lock the garage door”
- “OK Google, lock the front door”
As you can see, the commands are almost identical and will work with all of the locks that we talked about above, so no matter where you are at, you can call out to your assistant or smartphone, and have them lock or unlock your door for you.
Is It Safe, And Secure?
One problem with all this automation is security, and how it will hold up against a traditional lock and key. Almost all security systems and door locks associated with home automation cover locking doors, that is a must for security, but only a handful of them will unlock the door for you when asked. Vivint, for example, will NOT let you use Alexa or any other home automation device to unlock a door from the outside, it just will not work. They do this as a safety concern for customers how might have a burglar standing with a person to unlock the door, or to have someone wait for you to leave to call out to Alexa when you are not there. Now that Google Home and Alexa are coming out with voice recognition, it makes it much harder for someone to gain access to your home without you. Before this, it was very easy to have someone act like you and just say “Alexa unlock the front door”, and it would let them right in. Voice recognition can be a little hard to set up and may have some bugs in it, so give it time to “get smarter”, and learn your voice and commands. All of the major players in home automation have listened to the consumers and have taken safety as the main priority for them and their business, so you should be more comfortable with purchasing a voice command door lock system.
What Systems Use It
There are systems out there today that will even recognize you and your children to deliver messages directly to you. This technology is advancing at a serious pace in order to make home automation smarter and more efficient. Some smart HUBS will actually get smarter over time, and learn your way of speaking and learn the way you talk to it so that you do not have to articulate things as much. The ones that are not self-learning come with a basic set of commands that you can use, or you can enter in new custom commands just for you, and the HUB will store them and you can use them at will. Below is a brief list of devices that will take in custom commands for door locks and also some that have voice recognition on them:
- Google Home
- Ooma Home
- Amazon Alexa
- August Smart Lock
- Apple HomeKit
Smart locks are becoming increasingly popular and will be on the market for all major smart home HUBS in the near future. Voice recognition and voice commands are already working, and voice recognition will be growing over the next few years to completely understand who we are and what we want our system to do. Self-learning HUBS will also be a next big wave of technology.
Is It Easy To Install
If you decide you want to get a new voice automated door lock, you have a few options of how to install it. The first is that you can hire your home security company like Vivint or ADT to come out and set it up for you to get it working with your security system. Sometimes there is no charge for this, but there can be extra fee’s attached, so always call your provider first. The second is to have a contractor or locksmith come out and put your new lock in for you, which will be a trip charge, and a cost to remove the old lock, and put the new one on. Once they have installed your new lock, it will be up to you too for setting it up with your smartphone or HUB. The third option is to buy your own lock from a place like Amazon, or a retailer like Home Depot, and install everything yourself. This can be a more intermediate DIY task so make sure you read what you will need on the package before you buy it. Normally it will only take a flat head and Phillips screwdriver, and about 10 to 15 minutes to install on a typical deadbolt door. If you have a custom, or older door (most likely pre 1975), You may want to take measurements of how the deadbolt lines up, or you may have to drill out your hole. If you do not have a deadbolt, you will have to drill a hole in your door, a hole for the deadbolt, and also a hole in your door jam so that the deadbolt will fit. If you do not have a deadbolt, I highly suggest calling out a contractor or locksmith to help you as they have drill bits that are designed just to drill holes in doors, and if done incorrectly, could make you have to replace your whole door. After you are done putting in the new lock, you can then set up your smartphone, or HUB to take commands to connect to the new lock, and also commands to lock and unlock it.