Time to smarten up the locks on your door

Many tech-savvy Indians are exchanging their old mechanical locks for smart locks to secure their homes (image used for representational purposes only)   (iStock)
Many tech-savvy Indians are exchanging their old mechanical locks for smart locks to secure their homes (image used for representational purposes only) (iStock)


A smart lock is just as safe as a mechanical one—only the authentication is via digital means. Should you invest in one?

Every morning, as the mad scramble to get to the bus-stop with my son culminates in rushing out of the door and slamming it behind us, I don’t have to worry about whether I’m carrying my keys. On my return, I simply press my thumb on the lock to unlock the door, and done!

That’s the beauty of smart locks. While mechanical locks have physical keys, smart locks open via authentication using an electronic keypad, a biometric sensor, an RFID access card, or a companion mobile app. As digitisation enters every area of our lives, many tech-savvy Indians are exchanging their old mechanical locks for smart locks to secure their homes. At the same time, there is steady adoption by builders who are installing smart locks in new units to cash in on the “smart home/office" pitch.

According to a 2019 Research Nester report, the mobile app-based smart door lock market in India is projected to reach $216.61 million (around 1,800 crore) in 2025 from only $15.44 million in 2017, registering a growth rate of 39.79%.


At their core, smart locks do not enhance security compared to mechanical locks, but they add a layer of convenience that in turn, leads to better access control and raises the security posture. Arindam Paul, chief business officer at Atomberg, an Indian company which manufacturers and retails smart locks, says, “Some people feel smart locks are safer than traditional locks as they can remotely monitor and track every entry and exit."

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Smart locks make it easy to get in and out without the need to juggle keys or have someone lock/unlock the door. They unlock several additional scenarios. You can allow one-time or permanent access to visitors to your home. One can give temporary access to a neighbour, for example, who’s volunteered to water your plants while you are on vacation. At our home, my sister, who lives close by, has permanent access enabled.

Akhil Pruthi, a Goa-based education management professional, has enabled fingerprint-based access for his cook. “She gets in by herself daily. There’s no physical key involved—so I don’t have to worry about its duplication." Plus, the app provides an activity log, which ensures that access is not misused.

All smart locks are made to fit wooden doors of a certain width and the existing lock hole with little to no modification. While most brands offer free installation in major cities, a local carpenter can also install them.

People in rented homes are often wary of replacing locks because when they are vacating the house, removing an installed lock might damage the door. A good workaround is to buy a cheaper, regular lock (with the same mortise and similar handle dimensions as the smart lock) and replace it when moving.

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Some smart locks also support Wi-Fi, which allows monitoring access and remote management, integration with smart home platforms like Google Home and Amazon Alexa, and additional functionality with other smart home devices, especially security cameras and doorbells. That said, the inclusion of Wi-Fi introduces more complexities and security breakpoints, and hence, some users prefer to avoid such integrations. A breach in home Wi-Fi can expose the lock.


Yale, one of the world’s oldest lock manufacturers, was one of the earliest brands to offer digital access solutions in India—mostly in plush offices and hotels. It has a wide portfolio of smart locks for homes, but they are quite expensive (starting from 10,330 and going all the way to 68,999). Godrej, with its strong legacy of locks, has a similar range of smart locks—more affordable than Yale. The smart lock industry might be at a nascent stage in India but is opening up vigorously. Till last year, digital locks contributed to only around 3-5% of the overall lock category for Godrej. It is projected to account for more than 10% of the overall category for the company within a couple of years.

Some of the interesting and relatively affordable options are from home automation upstarts in India, like Qubo (a Hero Group company), Atomberg and Zunpulse. While Atomberg and Zunpulse only have one variant, Qubo offers half-a-dozen options to choose from.

Atomberg, widely known for its smart fans, has Atomberg SL1 ( 15,299) that offers a comprehensive access control solution with a packed features list. It’s a good looking, solid offering with a capable companion app. There’s no Wi-Fi support, which is fair in its price segment, but that brings down the smartness quotient.

Qubo has something for everyone—at different price points from 7,990-19,990. The good thing is that the functionality and access methods across the range are mostly the same and they differ only in build quality as well as the number of bolts it packs. There’s a Wi-Fi lock gateway sold separately ( 3,990), which allows you to remotely unlock the door from anywhere or enable virtual assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant to unlock the door without getting up from your couch. It also allows integration with Qubo Video Doorbell, allowing you to unlock the door from within the app. Then there’s Zunpulse Wireless Smart Door Lock ( 11,000) that has most of the features in an affordable package. Zunpulse has a Wi-Fi gateway ( 2,500) that enables remote unlocking and monitoring but without support for virtual assistants or integration with smart home devices, including the company’s video doorbell.

One has to keep in mind that smart locks, like all connected devices, are vulnerable to hacking. While breach of other smart devices might be an invasion of privacy or lead to cybercrimes, a smart lock breach may jeopardise one’s safety or put one at financial loss. Even though they make lock-picking less likely, a sophisticated hacking attempt can get past the barrier. However, such a heist will be the digital equivalent of an organised robbery attempt—not something a typical user needs to worry about.

Of course, most manufacturers are constantly working to mitigate any vulnerabilities. So, it’s a good idea to buy a smart lock from credible, trustworthy brands instead of random sellers online. And, always keep the app updated so that your guard is up to any new threats. That said, I’d imagine there’s a limit till when a brand supports a smart lock after which it might be exposed to any future vulnerabilities— unlike traditional locks which often last for decades.

Abhishek Baxi is a technology journalist and digital consultant.

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