The Rise of the Smart lock

Dec. 4, 2023
Several smart locks and products made this year’s Top Products for 2023

The rise of electronic access control and smart lock technology is driving increased interest from locksmiths as they continue to diversify their offerings beyond mechanical locks. One look no further than this month’s Top Products for 2023 (see page 10) to see that many smart lock and electronic access control products made the list.

Further validation can be found in our recently released State of the Industry report from November, which found that locksmiths see smart locks (38.9 percent) as the top technology that is important to their business. That number continues to rise as locksmiths add the latest access control technologies to their portfolio. Not surprisingly, when asked about the role electronic access control will have on their locking solutions in the next three years, an impressive 32.1% said, “electronics will be a major driver of my product portfolio,” and another 48.9% said, “electronics will complement my existing portfolio.”

In addition, when asked how much their business expects to implement with respect to electronic access control in the next year, nearly half, 47.4%, said “more than before,” which confirms what we are hearing from the locksmith community.

Going Mobile

Residential, multifamily, commercial and colleges and universities, for example, continue to ask for mobile-friendly solutions that don’t involve a physical key.

“Who wants to pull a key out of their pocket anymore and stick it into a lock to find out that it doesn't turn very well, or whatever?” notes John Nolan, owner of Reliant Security, based in Grand Junction, Colo. “When I pull up to my house or our shop, my phone is set up so that it disarms the panel for me and then I can also set it up to control some other things. Now we're stepping into the realm of potential automation, so imagine as you pull into your business the lights come on, the door unlocks. That’s where it’s going.”

The demand for mobile access options has really taken off in the last few years, with many colleges and universities adopting a mobile-first approach to access control. “At Arizona State University, for example, which has approximately 80,000 students on campus, they use the phone exclusively as a credential. And I know many other schools that are doing the same thing,” notes Glenn Younger, owner of Grah Safe & Lock based in San Diego, Calif. “It's the most protected credential that you can get, especially when compared to a card, for example, which can also be compromised. It's got so many things going for it.” 

Angelo Faenza, head of Digital Access Solutions at ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions Americas, told Locksmith Ledger that ASSA ABLOY continues “to see growth in the education sector as K-12 schools focus on creating safer, more secure learning environments and as college campuses address the growing demand for student housing and mobile credentials. We recognize that we have an important responsibility to create safer, more secure environments not only in educational facilities but in all spaces.”

Multifamily Growth

Multifamily is an area of strong growth for mobile access, with about three out of four property managers finding the ability of smart door locks to minimize key replacement costs “very appealing,” according to the latest Parks Associates research. “An increasing number of exterior locks in single-family homes are being replaced with smart door locks. Across single-family, multi-family, retail, and commercial spaces, builders, and owners are adopting connected entry solutions to create more secure and functional spaces.” 

Multifamily property owners/operators value smart access control for security, convenience, and OPEX savings, Parks said, as properties want to grant access to units remotely for unaccompanied viewing, assist with package delivery, control who had access to units, and make key replacement more efficient.

“Multifamily properties are increasingly adopting access control technology to ensure that only authorized persons can enter the property,” says Kristen Hanich, research director, Parks Associates. “Access control systems offer a wide range of benefits, including increased operational efficiency, reduced labor costs, and improved safety and security for residents.” 

The research firm noted that safety and security remain the leading purchase drivers of smart home devices. Smart door locks and smart access control systems provide a foundation of security by helping consumers and building owners/operators monitor and secure the primary access points. Typical use cases for smart door lock and access control systems: 

  • Grant entrance access remotely. 
  • Receive electronic real-time notifications of who is entering and leaving. 
  • Assign permanent and temporary virtual key with access schedules for specific days and times. 
  • Change or revoke access privileges at any time.  
  • Trigger tamper and forced entry alarms that warn of a possible break-in. 

When combined with video and biometrics, like facial recognition, these technologies provide a much higher rate of verification than ever before, helping to eliminate false alerts. “Face recognition creates operational savings for security monitoring, reduces the time and effort to validate the security event, and provides verification data to first responders to reduce response times and fines for false alerts,” Parks Associates says. “Face recognition technology is poised to expand beyond home security and will also cater to other verticals. Our research shows only 37 percent of consumers trust the companies that have access to their personal data, so industry players will have to address increasing concerns over privacy and data security concurrently, as they integrate these new capabilities into their solutions.” 

Smart Locks and More

With so much growth in this area of smart locks, here are some the products that made this year’s list based on Google analytics of our website,

Yale Assure Lock 2 with Z-Wave

The Yale Assure Lock 2 with Z-Wave, an extension of the company’s latest collection of smart locks, offers Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and is compatible with top Z-Wave smart home platforms and alarm systems, including Ring Alarm and Samsung SmartThings. Customers can pair Assure Lock 2 with Z-Wave to these platforms to power remote operations, voice assistant capabilities, and create one-touch scenes and automations to help with everyday activities, while benefiting from the overall convenience and security that Assure Lock 2 offers.

“Whether you regularly host guests, hire a pet sitter, have a neighbor check on your house while you’re on vacation, or just want extra peace of mind when you’re not home, Yale Assure Lock 2 has your front door covered,” said Jason Williams, president of U.S. Smart Residential at ASSA ABLOY. “Our new collection taps into Yale’s 182-year legacy of trusted security and pairs it with a fresh and timeless design, broad integration with your favorite smart home devices, and the latest tech advancements like Matter – delivering on our commitment to protect the things you love.”

Building on Yale’s original Assure line, every Assure Lock 2 model is now powered with smart connected capabilities, including the Yale Access app and work out of the box with Bluetooth and Apple HomeKit technology. Wi-Fi Smart Modules are also available in-box with the locks or sold separately, and no longer require a Wi-Fi Connect Bridge, enabling even simpler set up. Additionally, Z-Wave Smart Modules will be available later this year to serve Z-Wave customers. These models deliver on the wide set of integrations that Yale is known for, with partners including Airbnb, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, Philips Hue, Ring Alarm and Samsung SmartThings. Soon after Matter is available, a Yale Matter Smart Module will be sold separately, giving Assure Lock 2 customers the option to adopt the smart home industry’s newest connectivity standard.

Assure Lock 2 models are up to 30% smaller than their predecessors, easy to install and works with more doors of varying thicknesses and bore hole sizes, making it the most versatile deadbolt-replacing smart lock in the U.S. and Canada out of the box.

Lockly Defender  

The Defender is a (exit-entry) thin-style smart lock from Lockly’s Guard Series, ideally suited for narrow-stile doors in retail stores, lobby entrances, fitness rooms and other such common areas. It features what Lockly calls its “beloved hack-proof keypad” that can generate and store (up to 37) free access codes with specific profiles and permissions along with fast and secure MIFARE RFID or FOB access. It stores up to 999 fob keys/RFID cards and includes a quick-access 3D biometric fingerprint sensor (up to 99). The Defender series is available in two versions: Defender Doorman edition and the Exit Trim edition. Defender Doorman is built for front door entrances while the Exit Trim is compatible with emergency exit bars.

Top Features:

  • Design: The thin, sleek design is ideal for narrow framed doors and doesn’t take up a lot of space, only 44mm wide and 36.25mm deep.
  • Security: Lockly’s patented PIN Genie Technology randomly shuffles PIN locations on the touchpad making it impossible for strangers to guess the codes. It can generate and store up to 37 free access codes with specific profiles and permissions.
  • Access Options: MIFARE RFID or FOB access, stores up to 999 fob keys or 10 RFID cards. A 3D biometric fingerprint sensor holds up to 99 fingerprint options, revocable scan to open QR code access and remote smartphone control.

SALTO Neoxx G3 

SALTO’s new Neoxx G3 electronic padlock is a versatile locking system suitable for a wide range of applications.

The SALTO Neoxx G3 integrates RFID, Bluetooth LE, and NFC technologies to provide the ultimate keyless experience and most advanced electronic locking system available. In addition, the Neoxx G3 electronic padlock features SALTO SVN data-on-card and BLUEnet wireless network capable core technologies onboard. Thanks to BLUEnet wireless advanced capabilities, the padlock can read, receive, and write information via a smart card or real-time communications over the air (OTA).

“We’re thrilled to announce the launch of the SALTO Neoxx G3 electronic padlock which is the most advanced and versatile locking system on the market,” said SALTO Systems CTIO Marc Handels. “The SALTO Neoxx G3 is perfect for a wide range of access control applications and is particularly well-suited for those outdoor deployments that need the reporting and advanced technology that electronic access delivers as well as a product with a tough exterior that can withstand extreme weather variations.”

The SALTO Neoxx G3 electronic padlock also includes SALTO JustIN Mobile technology, which provides users the convenience of gaining access with an iOS or Android smart device. Users can open doors, gates, and padlocks with a smartphone or Apple Wallet with an iPhone or Apple Watch, thereby eliminating the need for physical keys

The SALTO Neoxx G3 padlock is made of hardened steel with a removable shackle model option, which can be completely detached from the padlock body. The cover case with a double-layered structure guarantees the ultimate protection from falls, shocks, and the most extreme environments or usage. The shackle is available in 8mm diameter and length options of 25mm, 30mm, 60mm, and 90mm. The padlock weighs 515g.

Den Smart Strike 

Den Smart Home is bringing intelligence to the electric strike with its DEN SmartStrike, a unique solution that provides users with the best of both the analog and smart home world. Once installed, users can easily, safely, and securely access their homes and businesses using both their traditional key to unlock their door, or via the companion app (available for both iOS and Android). Through the app, users can also create digital keys for family members, friends, and temporary guests.

“It works differently than other smart locks, because it is installed in a door frame,” company Founder and CEO Marijn van der Wal says. “It doesn’t do anything with your lock or your door handle. It is just a strike plate that will enable you to actually push the door open.”

One of the unique features of the DEN SmartStrike is that it is wireless. Powered by batteries and integrated with Z-Wave technology means the energy usage is low and batteries will last an estimated two years before they need to be replaced. In addition, as a Z-Wave-enabled device, the DEN SmartStrike is compatible with the largest, most diverse smart home and security ecosystem available (over 4,100 certified, interoperable devices).

Future versions of the DEN SmartStrike will add Matter, Zigbee, and Wi-Fi connectivity to provide compatibility amongst all IoT networking platforms. In the spring 2023, DEN launched a new authorized dealer program to provide exclusive pricing and prioritized order fulfillment to the professional channel.