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Smart Lock Buying Guide

Looking to upgrade to a connected lock? Here’s what you should know before you take the plunge.

The thing that makes smart locks so popular among homeowners not because they look futuristic and cool, but rather for the simple fact that smart locks try to find the balance between convenience and efficiency. Smart locks are often used on rental properties to give tenants and landlords peace of mind.

The smart lock industry wanted to make a basic action and make it even more convenient. However, some might say that the pursuit of convenience has made security an afterthought. How do you know that the smart locks installed in your home are actually protecting it?

In an attempt to help you answer this question, let’s talk about some of the highest rated smart locks on the market, and see how secure they really are.

1. August Smart Lock

The August Smart Lock is one of the best smart locks that has emerged from the smart lock industry. The August Smart Lock has a circular design, that almost makes it look like a stylized hockey puck. This cool design makes it look like something out of a modern sci-fi movie. The August Smart lock is also loaded with features that help you keep your home and property secured.

This smart lock allows homeowners to control their locks by using their smartphones. This means you will no longer have to rely on your old keys. The benefit of this is that homeowners will never have to worry about being llocked out of the house. In addition to this, this smart lock is built to work with the current deadbolt that you have installed in your home.

From a physical security standpoint, the August Smart Lock is as secure as the deadbolt that it installed on to. This means that if you have a good, secure, deadbolt installed in your home, the August Smart lock builds off the security you already have. However, there are some inherent flaws in the smart lock that make it less secure than one would think. Smart locks work with software, which means that some of the issues plaguing the August are hard to see just by looking at it.

These issues raised several red flags about the remote hacking of the August Smart Lock. Although many other smart locks focus on cool, unique designs, the new generation of the August Smart Lock has built upon the flaws of other smart locks to build a truly exceptional and secure lock.

2. Danalock

Danalock is another top contender in the security industry. Similar to the August Smart Lock, this lock simply wants to help homeowners lead more simple and convenient lives. The Danalock looks very similar to the August Smart Lock because it has the same hockey puck design. Also, it lets homeowners open their lock using their smartphones.

The lock is able to accomplish this by using BLE and Z-Wave features. Match the names “BLE” and “Z-Wave” with the manuals of some of electronic products around your house to see if they will be compatible. These are the software and hardware that helps your smartphone control the way your lock works. Additionally, it helps you connect your door locks to other parts of your smart home, like smart lights.

Being able to connect different parts of the smart home helps homeowners do a lot of complex tasks by simply clicking one button. Similar to the August Smart Lock, Danalock can work with the lock you have on your door, or you can use the lock cylinders that come with the package.

These cylinders are not high-security lock cylinders which means that there is a chance that a burglar might be able to overcome them. However, in this situation, the Danalock seems to be better than the August Smart Lock because there is no keyway on the lock. This means that a burglar won’t be able to pick your lock.

The Danalock seems to be a much safer option than the August Smart Lock. On the physical side, the lock functions similarly to the August Smart Lock, so it would be false to say that it was far more secure than the August, but doing away with the keyway makes a world of difference.

3. Kwikset

The Kwikset Kevo smart lock is not impenetrable, but it is one of the highest rated smart locks on the market, and for good reason. Similar to the locks discussed above, the Kevo smart lock wants to bridge the gap between smart home technology and security. The Kwikset Kevo helps you do away with your keys and rely on your smartphone to open your locks.

If you do not have a smartphone there is no need to worry, because there is always the option of using a key fob to open your lock. A key fob is a device that helps you operate your lock remotely. Another great feature that the Kevo gives homeowners, is the ability to give your guests temporary keys. For example, if you know some family members are coming over for dinner, you can send them a temporary key from your smartphone, which allows them to let themselves in.

However, unlike the two smart locks discussed above, The Kwikset Kevo has a much better grasp on security. First, the Kevo is an actual lock cylinder, whereas the other smart locks were controlling only your deadbolt. The secure locking mechanism in the Kevo makes it hard for burglars to break into your home. The lock is very resistant to lock picking attacks.

The Kwikset Kevo most definitely has some growing to do, but it is a rather effective lock for homeowners that want to ease their homes into the age of smart locks.

4. Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt

The Schlage Sense Smart Deadbolt is (In my opinion) the leading Smart Lock on the market in both convenience and security. The lock comes in two basic trims, either the Century trim or the Camelot trim. Each one lends itself to a particular home design, either modern or rustic. Homeowners can choose the lock that best fits their design style.

The Schlage Sense gives homeowners multiple ways to control their locks. Homeowners have the option of using their smartphones, a keypad, a traditional key, or by simply using voice commands. With so many options at their disposal, homeowners will no longer have to worry about being locked out of their homes.

To make homeowners feel even more secure with their smart lock, the Schlage Sense has a built-in alarm and a high-secure deadbolt. These are the kind of features that security minded homeowners will love.

This smart lock is the perfect blend of the Kwikset Kevo and the August Smart Lock, except it seems to get everything right. This is not to say that it is the perfect lock, or that it is impenetrable, but it does make it harder (than any of the locks listed above) for any unwanted guests to make their way into your home or office.

Conclusion

The smart lock industry obviously still has lots of room to grow, but homeowners can rest assured that these locks are on the right track. Smart home technology makes your life a lot more convenient. If you are using the smart locks discussed above, you will not have to worry about your security either, because they have it covered.

Author Bio
Ralph Goodman is a security expert and lead writer for the Lock Blog, the #1 locksmith blog on the Internet. The Lock Blog is a great resource to learn about locks, safety and security. They offer tips, advice and how-to’s for consumers, homeowners, locksmiths, and security professionals. Ralph has been featured widely throughout the web on sites such as Business Insider, Zillow, Bluetooth, Apartments.com, CIO and Safewise.

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3 Easy Home Security Upgrades for Older Adults

Seniors Home Security

Outdated technology and unreliable hardware have made some traditional home security setups tough to live with, especially for older adults. Inconvenient wall-mounted control panels can be difficult to access in a hurry if you have limited mobility, and many old-style systems feature small controls and clumsy interfaces that can be especially frustrating for arthritic hands.

Thankfully, the recent wave of smart home innovations (including those from your local cable company) has brought many new products and technologies to the marketplace that make it easier than ever to secure your home. Here are some of the best upgrades to make your home safer, and an all-around better place to live.

1. Video Doorbells
Home security starts at the front porch, and one of the best smart gadgets on the market is a simple upgrade to a common household feature: the doorbell. Products like the Skybell WiFi Video Doorbell and the August Doorbell Camera can provide an excellent first line of defense to your home that is surprisingly easy to use and install.
Simply remove the old doorbell button, attach a few small wires and connect the unit to your home’s Wi-Fi. This simple 10-minute project will provide you with a motion-detecting video feed of visitors and deliveries, all visible via a mobile app on your phone.

With this system in place, seniors can easily screen visitors without ever having to make their way to the door — which means being able to dismiss solicitors through smartphonesion, smart phone or tablet, without even getting up.

2. Smart Garage Door Systems
Upgrading your garage door opener is probably the last thing you think of when you contemplate home security, but seniors may find today’s smart garage sensors to be a huge help in keeping their homes safe.
Systems like MyQ from Chamberlain and other similar products connect a few simple sensors in the garage to a smart home hub, giving users wireless control over their garage doors from inside their home, or even from afar. The app makes it simple to close a forgotten open door while you’re lying in bed or away visiting family. Many cases of theft are due to something as simple a homeowner leaving a garage door open overnight, and this simple tool can help prevent that from happening.

3. Smart Sensors and Cameras

Older adults looking for more traditional ways of securing their homes may be happy to learn that the clunky security products of the past have been replaced with smarter, more reliable solutions that are much easier to install. Visit your local hardware store or talk to your internet service provider or cable company, and you’ll discover some excellent home security kits that operate with battery-powered sensors instead of wires.
You can place these cameras and sensors throughout your home in a matter of minutes, or have the installation done for you by a professional. Use the products in conjunction with a wireless wall panel, or even as part of an all-inclusive smart home hub that you can control through a mobile app on your phone.

These systems are effective on their own, but they’re especially useful when you throw a few indoor and outdoor smart cameras into the mix. Outdoor cameras can give you an early alert to unexpected visitors (whether you’re at home or away), and indoor cameras can provide a valuable safety net of additional security and comfort, as many include temperature and air quality sensors, too.

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Have a Spooktacular Halloween With Your Own Haunted Smart Home

THE HOLIDAY SEASON is in full swing, which means we’re all whipping out our decorations and decking our homes out for the festivities ahead. First up: Halloween. That means it’s time to get your spook on. Between monstrous masks that evoke the horror icons who haunt our nightmares (thanks, Chucky), and our favorite home decor (like […]

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How the Internet of Things will enable seniors to stay in their homes longer

Ninety percent of adults over the age of 65 report that they would prefer to stay in their current residence as they age. Livability can be optimized through the incorporation of universal design principles. One-third of American households are home to one or more residents 60 years of age or older.

Senior Living

Cheerful senior couple making faces and having fun while taking a selfie with smart phone.

Technology can be an enabler for aging in place. There are four categories of technology that may help seniors stay in their home longer: Communication and Engagement, Health and Wellness, Learning and Contribution, and Safety and Security.

Emerging sensor and connectivity technology has made possible the development of a new generation of monitoring systems that don’t require the person being monitored (the resident) to wear a device. Instead, networks of sensors within the home connect to a cloud-based algorithm that learns the daily living patterns of the resident. The algorithm recognizes if there is a deviation that may require sending an alert to a smart phone or social media app so someone can take action, or at least pay closer attention.

The behavior patterns that Internet of Things (IoT) monitoring systems are able to detect and learn include these activities:

  • location of the resident within the home
  • light sources being used
  • bed time and awakening time
  • television watching
  • cooking
  • bathroom usage
  • leaving the home and returning
  • heating or air conditioning temperature and adjustments

As you can see, all of these depend on either motion or an electric appliance or source being utilized, which pretty much encapsulates everyone’s home life. Surely anything that can reduce the astronomical number of human caregivers that would be needed over the next few decades to care for the exploding elderly demographic is welcome.

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Studies Reveal Adopting Online Technology Links to Better Health Situations for Seniors

Smart Home Automation

Learning, embracing and adopting a new technology is, for some seniors, an extremely daunting task. But logging onto Facebook, Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts or perusing the internet can provide seniors with worthwhile health benefits. Many studies including a  study published in the issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, seniors who routinely use online technology engage in more cancer-preventive behaviors than their peers. The study shows that aging adults who utilize the internet are more likely to be active and physically fit, eat a well-balanced diet, and are less likely to smoke than their peers who utilize the internet less often. These findings led the team to conclude that increased utilization of modern technology directly correlates to seniors? overall health.

To reach this conclusion, researchers from University College London examined data from the English Longitudinal Study on Aging, which collected participant information every two years for nearly a decade. Approximately 6,000 subjects age 50 and older participated. Each participant was asked to detail his or her habits for a host of daily activities which included smoking, physical activity, health checkups, routine screenings and internet usage. The results led researchers to theorize that internet aficionados are more aware of their health. 73% of Internet-savvy seniors stated they had received preventive screenings for both color and breast cancer compared to 51% of non-internet users. The study also showed that senior internet users are 50% more active and less likely to smoke.

Age, ethnicity, education and socioeconomic status also played into these findings, revealing a potential inequality to cancer outcomes among those who shun this technology. While the notion that embracing technology might have the ability to improve health status, further study on this potential correlation is warranted.

At Smaart House, we understand the importance of utilizing new technologies and what it can do to benefit the health of a loved one. We make technology easy to adapt and understand and provide the support seniors need to age in their own homes.

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How I got my grandmother hooked to Audible

Home Automation

Amazon Alexa

First, Evelyn Moore tried to read books with a magnifying glass. Then, she turned to a tablet to make the words on her e-books larger. Eventually, she couldn’t even see that. The 95-year-old was losing her sight, and with it, one of her favorite hobbies.

“She wasn’t able to read anymore, and that was a big loss,” said her son James Moore.

Last year, the younger Moore had an idea: What if he could get his mom a device that could read books to her without the need to navigate a control screen that she had a hard time seeing?

That device turned out to be the Amazon Echo, an internet-connected smart speaker that responds to voice commands. James Moore figured that he could buy his mother audiobooks from Audible, then teach her to use voice prompts to have the Echo play the audiobook.

At first, Evelyn Moore was a little wary.

“It took a little while to convince her of it,” James Moore said. “Her thought was that we’re going to have wires everywhere.”

Eventually, she agreed to try it. It’s been nearly a year, and she’s listened to 178 books.

Smart home gadgets like the Amazon Echo can provide an extra layer of comfort and protection for older adults who want to stay in their own homes as they age. They can also give caregivers or adult children like Jim Godek a means to monitor them, especially if they don’t live close to one another.

Evelyn Moore isn’t alone. Roughly 90 percent of seniors intend to continue living in their current home for the next five to 10 years, according to a survey taken by the AARP in 2012. But change — in the form of new technology — can be scary and intimidating. How do you tell your parents you want them to use a smart home device to help them live independently?

“Starting any kind of conversation with the elderly can be tricky,” said Barbara McVickers, an elder care expert, and author. “Mom and Dad sometimes don’t want to talk about this. They see this as a role reversal. They still want to be in charge. It becomes a tug-of-war with the parents wanting to be autonomous and the child caring about the well-being of their parents.”

Here are some tips on how to start a conversation with your parents about upgrading to smart home tech for their benefit — and yours:

  • Include them in the conversation instead of telling them what to do. “If we just go blaring in there as adult children, they’re going to really dig their heels in,” McVickers said. Listen to their own concerns, and share your own, too.
  • Call a family meeting to talk about how you want to help your parents. Bring in your siblings or other family members who provide care for your parents so “everyone is deciding together what is best for mom and dad,” McVickers said. Consider bringing in a third party your parent’s trust so they can provide some perspective, too, such as their physician, insurance agent or a family friend.
  • Provide a real-life example of how a gadget could help. Do you have a friend whose parents’ home got broken into who could have benefited from a security system? Use stories like that to illustrate the need to add some devices to their homes. And discuss how a device could help make your life easier, especially if you are the primary caregiver. McVickers suggests that you make a statement like this: “I’m doing this out of love and safety, but we need to know how we can help you age the way you wish.”
  • If your parents are on board with adding a smart home gadget to their routine, pick something that’s simple and requires little interaction. New technology is intimidating, and something too difficult to learn can turn off aging parents. For your parents to successfully make a new device a part of their lives, “it almost has to work flawlessly without their interaction,” McVickers said. (Check out these smart home devices that are easier to use.)
  • Install new devices for your parents and write down step-by-step instructions for how to use them. “If Mom and Dad can’t use it, it’s not helpful at all,” McVickers said.
  • Make sure your parents have a reliable internet connection and Wi-Fi network if the devices you choose rely on Wi-Fi. Here are some Wi-Fi systems that will help make sure your parents and their devices stay online.
  • Reevaluate how your parents are doing with the new device.Check in regularly to see if the device is helping them. Stay on top of your parents’ needs since they could change and require new and different technology.
  • Know when to accept defeat. Your parents might be adamant against changes to their routine. “There’s a certain point you can’t do anything else,” McVickers said. “They’re adults. Forgive yourself if you don’t get everything in place.”For Evelyn Moore, the introduction of the Amazon Echo into her home has had a huge impact, according to her son.”She has made the comment that she can look forward to something brand new every day when she gets up,” he said.

    They’ve added a smart thermostat to Evelyn Moore’s home that she can voice-control, too. But all of the additions have to be on her terms.

    “It’s still her life,” James Moore said. “I can have all the input I want, but it’s her choice.”

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How to be a Smart Airbnb Host

Being an Airbnb host can be simply great fun and rewarding, or leave you in disgust with a ‘never again’ feeling. Very few hosts will feel worry-free without having at least some insight into their guests’ stay.

As a host, one thing you can do to keep an eye on things — without being too snoopy — is to install a few smart gadgets around your space. Here are seven essentials every Airbnb host should consider.

Smart Locks

Smart Home Automation

With physical keys, you run certain risks that could be avoided altogether with smart locks. Physical keys can be copied, of course. But it can also be a little more difficult to enforce check out times, especially if your Airbnb property isn’t nearby or if you’re out of town.

With a smart lock, like those from August or Schlage, you can give temporary access that begins with check-in and expires after the check-out date and time. You can also assign different access codes to guests and others (such as cleaners) to see who is entering or leaving the property.

Video Doorbell

Smart Home Automation

Unlike controlling when someone has access to your Airbnb, it can be difficult to police how many people are staying. If you charge additional fees for extra guests, you probably want to know how many people are actually crashing at your place when you’re not there. Or if you have a strict no-pet policy and suspect a guest might be sneaking in a furry friend, you’d probably like a way to check on that.

You can monitor who is coming and going with something like a video doorbell. SkyBell or the August Doorbell Cam come to mind.

This is also a nice failsafe, in case the guest loses or forgets their access code or their phone is dead and they can’t unlock the smart lock. They can simply press the doorbell, which will give you two-way audio (and one-way video) communication with your guests and you can unlock the door for them.

Smart Thermostat

Smart Home Automation

With a smart thermostat, you will never have to run by your rental to turn on the air conditioning before a guest arrives or off after they leave again. Something like a Nest or Ecobee can determine when people are at home or away and adjust the controlled air respectively. And a thermostat as simple to use as Nest can make it easier for your guests to make themselves comfortable.

These simple automation will save you a lot of hassle and some energy costs over time, especially if your rental remains vacant for extended periods.

Smart Lights

Smart Home Automation

Smart bulbs are more tricky. They continue to work as normal lights, even without a phone app to control them. But without something like an Alexa or Google Home speaker or dedicated controller, guests won’t get to enjoy the full benefits of having bulbs that can change colors or operate on a schedule.

The perks of smart bulbs are more for the host than the guest, however. With connected lights, you can see if a guest happened to leave lights on when they checked out. Or you can set the lights to a schedule to simulate someone being home when the property is vacant.

Security Camera

Smart Home Automation

You definitely don’t want to make your guests feel uneasy, but most will understand if you equip your space with security cameras both indoors and out.

Security footage is one of the few protections Airbnb hosts have against theft. Investing in something like Nest Cam Indoor or Axis will be well worth it should something ever go missing or if anything expensive gets damaged.

If you go this route, just make sure you clearly list that they’re present and working on the Airbnb listing and keep them out of sensitive areas, such as bedrooms and bathrooms.

 

 

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Your Health is now a number; 42%, $2500?

Smart Home Automation

According to a recent article in the New York Times,  our health status and potential health care expenses can now be determined if we belong to the 42% or 58% of the population. Read here:

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7 Great Apps that bring Grandparents and Grandchildren together

Smart Home Automation

With society’s increase in (and reliance on) technology, many people have feared that we are losing the important face-to-face interactions that help us connect and better understand each other. Although spending quality face-to-face time is important, for grandchildren and grandparents who are separated by geography or unconventional family structures, connecting online via social media and other communication tools like Skype is a great option.

“70% of teens say the computer increases the quantity of their communication with family members living far away, and 67% say it increases the quality of those communications,” IKeepSafe reports.

These apps are a great way to connect, especially for families who live apart:

  1. Ancestry websites are a great way for grandparents and older grandchildren to explore their family’s heritage together. Some popular ones include Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com.
  2. Keepy:  Share art-work, school projects and other things that grandparents love to put on their fridge (but don’t have room for).
  3. Kindoma: Draw, play or read together in real time.
  4. Redeo: Lets you read together while your young grandchild turns the pages.
  5. Scoot & Doodle: Collaborate together on homework.
  6. SkypeVoxerooVoo and Rounds are examples of apps that allow you to send photos and videos, talk and text in real time.
  7. Wheel of Fortune is a popular game app that grandparents and grandchildren of all ages can play together, no matter the distance.
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Essential Health Apps Every Senior Should Have

 

Smart Home Automation

Aging Digitally

 

Seniors have found that, with the right repertoire of apps, smartphones and tablets can promote major lifestyle improvements. Smartphone and tablet apps allow seniors to:

  • Keep their minds active and engaged
  • Stay connected with friends and family
  • Keep abreast of news and world events
  • Set reminders for physician appointments and to take medicines
  • Pay bills online
  • Research and receive pertinent medical information
  • Listen to their favorite music
  • Stay well read
  • Easily take and save notes
  • Be entertained

Here are some essential medical information apps every senior should have:

  1. Lumosity: Evidence shows that seniors who keep their minds challenged and their brains active mitigate their risk for Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia. Health claims aside, many puzzle-lovers enjoy Lumosityjust for the fun it provides. Lumosity is an ideal app for seniors, is continuously being updated with new puzzles and brain games, and is a great addition to any senior’s cell phone or tablet.
  2. Medisafe: Despite their best efforts, even seniors without memory problems can have a hard time keeping track of their medicines or fully complying with a treatment plan. Medisafe is a robust tool that seeks to help older adults manage their medications, set reminders, and create status reports about how well they have stuck to their medication regimen. At the same time, Medisafe takes privacy extremely seriously, and you can be confident that your personal medical information is safe and secure.
  3. WebMD: No app can replace a physician, but for medical information in the digital age, there is no name as trusted as WebMD. You can ask the app questions, which it responds to with highly relevant articles written by physicians who are specialists in the topic in question. It allows you to browse high-quality articles, and even get updated information about how current weather conditions may impact your health (for example, through reports on air quality and pollen levels).
  4. My Recovery app, designed by a surgeon, would help patients prepare for their operation, to understand what to expect during and after their hospital stay, and to guide them through any necessary rehabilitative physiotherapy exercises individually tailored to their needs.
  5. Blood Pressure Companion: If you want to obtain more comprehensive blood pressure data on your iPhone, try Blood Pressure Companion. This app not only lets you measure your blood pressure and heart rate, but it will also send you a test reminder. Over time, collected data will help you look for patterns in your readings. If you add your weight in the app, you may even see your blood pressure drop as you lose pounds. This is an ideal app for recording information between doctor’s visits — feel free to share your data with your doctor at your next appointment.