The door lock is a marvelous marriage of simplicity and complexity. Both its function (to restrict access to a building or room) and operation (insert key, twist key, open door) are simple. But it's the complex internal mechanics that allow the lock to work the way it does. The pins, grooves, and cylinder must all align perfectly with the proper key or the cylinder won't turn, the bolt won't throw, and the door won't open—that's the whole point. Locks have been around for thousands of years, but the modern pin-tumbler lock was invented by Linus Yale Sr. in 1848. Though the pin-tumbler is certainly pickable by an expert, the basic design has been discouraging burglars to this day.
THE STATE OF SMART LOCKS
Until recently, the pin-tumbler has been immune to the digital revolution. But Marc Weber Tobias, global expert on locks and physical security, notes that keypad entry and wireless locking systems have been in commercial buildings for years. Now, smart locks are finally coming to residential abodes as well. Tobias thinks the change is due to the rise of the smartphone. "In America, it's all about convenience and gadgets. If you can walk up to the door with your smartphone and touch the lock and it opens, why do you want keys?" he says. "As long as it's secure."
Most electronic locks are drop-in replacements for conventional locks, and installation is just as straightforward. Or, at least, that's what I was told. I've never installed a lock in my life, so I left that work to a professional locksmith, who installed them within minutes in the deadbolt holes in my front and back doors. My wife—who usually indulges me in my early-adopter experiments—had reservations. "If I get locked out, you'll never hear the end of it," she said.