Tell us a little bit about the company, Kwikset.
Kwikset is the number one residential door lock leader and the number one Z-Wave connected lock leader. We manufacture and market a complete line of door locks and door hardware, including door knobs, door levers, deadbolts, handlesets, pocket door hardware and electronic keyless locks for residential and light commercial applications. We continue to deliver innovative products to meet the needs of today’s homeowner, including our SmartCode locks with Home Connect technology which are the industry’s leading wireless, access control lock solution for the smart home.
Talk about the growth of electronic or "smart" locks.
People continue to be connected with a more accessible world whether through the smart phone or getting everything at their fingertips. When we look at the growth of the electronic lock, the biggest thing would probably be the convenience of access control and monitoring. With the emergence of technology in the market, people start to expect the most advanced features and functions in all their products, be it a connected lock or otherwise. These expectations are driving significant growth from mechanical locks to electronic locks.
In addition to security, what are some of the primary reasons for the purchase of electronic locks?
In terms of security, obviously it’s a door lock and you expect it to protect your home. But electronic locks provide additional security in terms of being able to manage access control more conveniently, versus just a key. Electronic locks allow the homeowner to grant access with a code. They also allow the homeowner to manage the discontinuance of a code; whether the code is given to a contractor, a housekeeper or a babysitter, the homeowner can delete the code as opposed to having to physically get a key back. The third piece of security with an electronic lock is the ability to see a history and manage the use of the code. There’s a lot more peace of mind inherent to a lock that has all of these capabilities, as opposed to a key and lock that simply lets the homeowner lock and unlock a door.
What are the most sought-after features in electronic locks?
Consumers are looking for an expansion of security. For example, our Kevo electronic Bluetooth deadbolt lets homeowners use their smartphones to unlock the door. If someone loses a phone, there’s a back-end web portal to deactivate the phone so it is no longer able to unlock the lock. There’s also additional security with Kevo as far as ensuring that when someone is in the house, an unwanted guest can’t get in. Kevo’s inside/outside technology won’t allow the lock to unlock using a phone if someone is in the house.
Consumers are also seeking features that enhance convenience. They like the idea of having access control at their fingertips, which is available with our entire line of SmartCode™ locks with Home Connect™. With Home Connect, users also have complete remote locking and unlocking via their smartphones and tablets.
Our new SmartCode 916 provides all the features of SmartCode, including keyless entry, combined with the convenience of a capacitive touchscreen. Users can activate the 916 with the touch of a fingertip. The SmartCode also meets the consumers’ demand for extra security with the SecureScreen™ feature. This important feature helps mask "smudge" attacks, in which passcodes can potentially be jeopardized by detecting frequently used numbers from the oily residues on the touchscreen surface.
What are some of the perceived negatives people have about electronic locks and how can these be overcome?
Some people might wonder about the security of electronic locks, in terms of hacking locks and getting in. At the core of the communication between the lock and other devices itself is 128-bit encryption –banking-level encryption –which is very secure. Secondly, in a connected home, consumers have to manage security to their home networks as routers continue to have encrypted passcodes to get in. Consumers must make sure they have the latest encryption on their WiFi and router networks. In this setting, security is not just about a lock but it’s about all these connected devices. Consumers need to be educated as to how to take the right measures to secure their home networks.
A second possible negative perception might be that electronic locks are pricey – more than a potential purchaser wants to spend. We need to continue to educate consumers on the true value of electronic locks, so consumers understand what they aree truly getting for their money. We also need to continue to offer choice, with locks available at different price points including a lower-price, entry-level electronic lock.
A case can be made that aside from the home control hub, the electronic lock is the most important element in a home automation scenario. Please explain.
People use their locks and lock their doors every day – so users don’t have to alter their behavior to use the lock as the main user interface for the home. Controlling all the home automation from the front door is really all about the convenience of being able to set-up the home right at the home’s entry point.
Do you see a day when key locks are all gone or will there always be a need for a keyed entry?
I think there is potential for a day when most people are using electronic locks. Will the mechanical key ever entirely go away? Probably not. You can draw a parallel with the car industry where there’s been a significant migration to keyless vehicle entry, but still there’s a mechanical back-up. The use of electronic keys and access codes will grow and offset mechanical keys as the primary device at some point in the future. We’re certainly seeing significant growth in this area every year. But the low cost of mechanical keys might still support their sale as a lower-priced alternative.
How has Kwikset been able to carve out such a dominant position in the electronic lock industry?
There are a couple of reasons. Security is still our driving force, and we leverage that as often as possible. We don’t see an electronic lock as a gadget — it’s an expansion of who we are, a provider of security. Onto that core security element, we are now applying technology to deliver increased convenience and even greater security to the consumer.
Also, we continue to lead the way with style and finish, bringing this leadership role into the electronic space. We know why people buy and how they buy locks for their homes, and we know it’s a combination of security plus style and finish.
Also, Kwikset continues to lead with innovation. For example, we brought the first residential Bluetooth lock to the market with Kevo. And our SmartCode 914 offers best-in-class design, driving migration to smaller footprints for electronic locks and making these locks a more aesthetically pleasing piece of hardware for the home.
Talk briefly about the future of electronic locks in terms of new features and capabilities and how you envision Kwikset fitting into that.
We want to continue to embrace new technologies and find ways to incorporate them into the product so that it is faster, smarter, and more convenient. We also want to continue to look at different means of authentication. We see what smartphones are doing with fingerprint identification and can appreciate the convenience and enhanced security of that kind of authentication.
We are also continuing to move toward aesthetically pleasing locks that can blend with a home design and style – not just futuristic-looking gadgets.
Looking into the future, I can foresee new innovations in power. How do you optimize power into a motorized device on the door? Could you self-generate? Could you utilize solar? How do you find ways to make the lock more self-sustainable? I can imagine electronic locks of the future making big advances in this area.