Changing the front-door lock will be as easy as a few mouse clicks with a new system from Schlage. Or just tap on a mobile phone to add a code for a temporary housekeeper.
As interesting is how Schlage is positioning the new lock and accompanying Link service—as a portal to automating the rest of the house. The Web-based software can not only control codes on the electronic lock but send signals to a couple of hundred other devices around the house. That is, if any house has that many.
To emphasize its versatility, the $300 kit includes a module that can turn a light on and off wirelessly. A simple use: A code that opens the front door also turns on a lamp. "You can set for any number of things to happen when someone enters the home," says Schlage's Dwight Gibson. "It's so much more than just a lock."
The system uses Z-Wave, a wireless tech that can control heat and AC, appliances, and cameras for monitoring a home, among other gear. A Schlage box plugs into a broadband router to link the Web to the lock and to gadgets around the house. Users control them through a website or software downloaded to a mobile phone. The Web service costs $13 a month.
Sure, the concept gives rise to chilling scenarios. Angry girlfriends, sleazy handymen, and lost cellphones loom like dark clouds. But the convenience outweighs the risk, with reasonable care.
The Link lock goes on sale later this year. Who would've thought: The humble front-door deadbolt will give the refrigerator a run as the always-on hub for the home. All that, and the lock will remind you to change its batteries (every three years or so).