How can a lock and security system that promises to let more people into your home make you feel more safe? The answer to that seemingly contradictory question, according to Yves Behar and the team behind the recently expanded August Smart Lock system, may offer a glance at how changes in the concept of "always home" technology may impact commerce. The launch last week of an expanded line of August home security devices—including a HomeKit-enabled Smart Lock, Smart Keypad and Doorbell Cam, which builds upon the core concept of "keyless, codeless, and completely secure" home security—also create an opening for August Access, a platform which grants select business partners home access via the smart lock system. Taken together, it's the company's bid to allow better, and more controlled, access to your home. According to Jason Johnson, August's founder and CEO, the hope is that the new suite of devices and platform allows them to do for home access what Uber does for transport and Airbnb does for lodging.
"What we're most excited about is enabling new business models," says product designer Yves Behar. "All these services share the same, main pain point: keys."
The expanded August products round out the capabilities of the existing Smart Lock, which allows keyless entry via an app. The new Smart Keypad ($79) offers one-time only access (as well as keyless access for those without smartphones), and the Doorbell Cam ($199), a Bluetooth-enabled, one-way HD video camera and two-way audio system, lets users communicate when visitors arrive (constant intelligent motion also captures images of unwanted guests). Integrated with the August app, users can swipe when they receive a notification someone has arrived, greet them, and then press a button to unlock the door. Along with the new HomeKit-enabled Smart Lock ($229) that features an updated design, the entire system is offered together as a bundle for $489
Put together, the system also serves as a catalyst for commerce. August Access, which launched with 13 partners including home cleaning service Handy and delivery service Shyp, provides select companies with access to the August API. This allows businesses to integrate the process of providing an online key to any potential service provider during the online booking process, and consumers to constantly monitor transactions and visitors via the August app. A homeowner with the updated August system can book a cleaner for Saturday and provide a one-time access code at the same time (and, August hopes, also welcome them into their home via the Doorbell Cam).
"Security and convenience go hand in hand," says Behar. "The more comfortable you feel, the more you're going to be able to take advantage of the system. Arguably, people have been doing this kind of thing forever, leaving keys under the doormat, or providing door codes. With the security and control of August, and high-quality video and sound, we think it's much more likely people will be using this practical feature."
It's difficult to divine the potential impact and scale of August-supported commerce, especially without a solid estimate on the total number of locks sold (Johnson offered the vague metric that 5 million lock operations had been performed in the last month). Hyperbolic assertions of redefining home access may sound inflated, though the idea of August Access simplifying home repairs and installations (Sears is an inaugural partner), or making home rental platforms even easier to operate (Airbnb would obviously be a massive get for the nascent system) could substantiate these claims. While the new additions make August a more well-rounded security and home access system, it remains to be seen if August Access is ahead of the curve when it comes to offering controlled access.