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Schlage’s Z-Wave Door Lock is Sweet, But is Web App Overkill?

Schlage's remote-controllable door locks are just the ticket, but can the company sell Web-enabled automation software at retail for $12.99/month?


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Schlage's new Z-Wave-enabled door lock is what this industry's been missing.

We first announced in May that Schlage was developing a wireless electronic lock that communicates with the Internet via a Z-Wave gateway.

The company demonstrated the solution for the first time here at CEDIA Expo 2008.

It's nice. It's what this industry needs – an easy way to lock and unlock the doors from a cell phone, the Internet, a key fob, or a button by your bed stand.

At only $199 retail, it's just $50 or $60 more than traditional electronic deadbolts and lever locks.

But that's not exactly what Schlage is promoting. The company has created a complete Web-enabled home-control system that enables remote access to lights, thermostats, surveillance cameras, and other automated devices including Schlage locks.

The Web service is called Schlage Link, and the company plans to charge $12.99 per month for it.

A starter kit, which includes one lock, a Z-Wave Internet bridge and a Z-Wave light module will retail for $299, and extra locks will cost $199.

But the big money for Schlage isn't necessarily in the hardware, says Greg Baldauf, business development manager for Schlage's Intelligent Residential Security unit.

"The business model is more on the server fees," he says.

The product will soon be rolled out at Fry's stores.

Another Web-Enabled Control System?!


Here we go again, with yet another manufacturer thinking it can sell Web-enabled control systems to the mass market.

It hasn't worked yet.

Must I rehash the high-profile flops and yet-to-deliver startups? Xanboo, Motorola, Shell Homegenie, iControl, Linksys, utilities, telcos, cable companies ….

Why does Schlage think it will be the first to succeed?

"We've done a lot of consumer focus groups," says Baldauf. "They are really ready for it."

He cites the growing popularity of Z-Wave RF technology, which enables two-way communications in low-cost devices. Now we have garage door openers, dimmers, keypads, thermostats, motors and other Z-Wave devices that can easily be integrated under a single control environment.

"Z-Wave is an open protocol, so we don't need to be in the lighting or thermostat business," says Baldauf. "There is a lot of cross-promotion" among the various providers of Z-Wave products.

The Schlage Web-based interface is clean and useful. Users can configure automated alerts, say, for when the kids come home from school. They can change thermostat settings from a Smart Phone or other browser. And so on and so on.

But then so can iControl and many other providers of Web-based automation solutions.

The Schlage software is preconfigured for Panasonic IP surveillance cameras, so users need not set up port forwarding and other onerous network configurations. But then, other providers also offer plug-and-play surveillance solutions.

Schlage is a powerful brand among consumers. But then so is AT&T and other suppliers of Web-based control systems.

One particularly unique thing about Schlage's offering is its very-secure RF communications, complying with Z-Wave's "security device classification."

It may be OK for interlopers to mess with your lights, but you wouldn't want them toying with your door locks.

Baldauf says Schlage is working with Honeywell and other alarm manufacturers to integrate traditional security systems with residential access control.

Automated Door Locks: Killer App


Selling Web-enabled automation, even for a top brand that is well connected to retail outlets, is going to be tough.

Schlage might have been better served just making the Z-Wave door locks, which this industry definitely needs.

The company is creating a software development kit for third-party vendors to communicate with Schlage locks.

That's the ticket. I'll take a few locks, some compatible keyfobs, a few Z-Wave switches to lock all doors at night, and seamless integration with my security system.

Leave the Web-accessible automation software to someone else.




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Article Topics

News · Product News · Slideshow · Home Automation and Control · Security · Z-Wave · CEDIA · Home Automation · Z-wave · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.

9 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Ben Drawbaugh  on  09/07  at  07:04 AM

I agree 100%. Asking focus groups if they want to control locks is much different from people actually doing it. Sure it sounds cool, but it reality it’s not.

But my question is can I just buy one of these for $200 and add them to my existing Z-wave HA system without signing up for their web service?

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  09/07  at  07:11 AM

Yes, you will be able to buy the Z-Wave locks themselves and control them with your Zwave system sans Web service. BUT, it only communicates with devices that comply with Z-Wave’s “security device classification” and I don’t know if there are any right now.

Schlage is developing an SDK for other Zwave providers so presumably they will make compliant controllers for the locks.

It may be that you have to use their IP gateway to get to the locks (for encryption purposes), but that would be fine with me.

I’ll ask Schlage to chime in.

Posted by Ben Drawbaugh  on  09/07  at  09:10 AM

Thanks for looking into that for me Julie, I’ll definitely buy one for my detached garage, then I’ll never have to run out to check if it’s locked in the middle of the night again.

Posted by Mark  on  09/07  at  03:43 PM

Hi Julie,

Well, we’re on the list of vendors to receive the development kit, so we should be supporting this fairly soon in our HS2/HSPRO software and also in the HomeTroller and PRO-100 units.  FYI

Mark Colegrove
HomeSeer Technologies

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  09/07  at  07:44 PM

Thanks, Mark. Should be a great app!

Posted by TimG  on  08/05  at  03:21 AM

The best alternative home automation system I could find, which interoperates great with the Schlage LiNK locks, is called “Vera” by Mi Casa Verde (micasaverde.com).  I’ve lived through earlier iterations of HA, and the new Z-Wave technology looks very promising, as does Vera.

Posted by Mark  on  05/05  at  07:22 AM

Julie - Quick follow up.  We fully support these locks and the forthcoming Kwikset locks from Black & Decker.  All you need is one of our software or hardware controllers and a Z-Wave interface.

Mark Colegrove
HomeSeer Technologies

Posted by Mark  on  05/05  at  07:23 AM

.... forgot to mention that you can control the locks with our system using an iPhone / iPod Touch and the new iPad too!

Mark

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  05/05  at  07:30 AM

Yes, Schlage has come a long way since 9/08

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