august smart lock

what it does

Basically, it’s a device you attach to your existing lock on the inside of your door that allows you to stop using your traditional metal key to unlock and lock your door. Using your phone, you can issue an encrypted key to anybody and it can be a permanent 24/7 key or it can be a key that just works tomorrow from 1-4 p.m. It’s great not to have to carry metal keys yourself, but it’s even more useful if you ever have to give the key to somebody else, like a housekeeper or a dog walker or out-of-town guests. If you’ve ever hidden a key under a mat, no more having to do that.

Welcome to a life that is more simple and secure

why I made it

Life is getting more and more complex, at least it is for me in my house. I’m married and have a child and we’re busy people. A few years ago I had to let go my housekeeper and I had to get the key back, which was awkward. Then I had to give a key to the new housekeeper, and then I hired a dog walker and had to give a key to the dog walker. I didn’t know if someone was going to make a copy of their key, and I thought, “There has to be a better way to manage all these keys!” There had to be a better way to manage access to our homes. So I decided to develop something that would reduce some of the challenges around giving people this kind of access. We’re very fortunate that smart phone technology and Bluetooth have evolved so quickly.

how i made it

It was a fun challenge, and much harder than I thought it would be. We wanted to design something that would attach to our existing lock and work very simply and safely. We had to put all these electronics and a little motor and four AA batteries into a small cylinder that looks like an oversized hockey puck. To do that while keeping it simple was extremely challenging, but it was also fun trying to overcome the challenge.

who i worked with

Early on in the idea stage I went to my friend, Yves Béhar, a designer who I’d met at a TED conference a few years prior, and told him what I’d been thinking about. He said he had the same concerns as I did with giving out keys to people who might make a copy of the key. So in November 2012 we kicked it off and started working on the smart lock. Yves became a co-founder with me.

what i learned

One of our investors is Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of MIT Media Lab. One piece of advice he had early on was that the lock should operate just as it did before installing August Smart Lock. He said, “As you work on these products, your number one rule should be, don’t take away any of the existing functionality of the system that’s working in your house today.” That way, if your product crashes, if something fails in the process, you can still get in and lock your house with a traditional key. 

what's next

We all dream of that magical moment when you come home from work and the house has been cleaned, the dog has been walked, the dry cleaning’s been delivered, the groceries have been delivered, maybe dinner’s been delivered, and your packages are safely in the house. That’s basically where we’re headed. We just launched new products, including a Doorbell Cam and a Smart Keypad and a service called August Access that aims to make what I describe above a reality.