Smart Door Locks with Facial Recognition


September 14, 2020

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2020 Update

We’ve added information about additional smart locks and about the state of facial recognition software in 2020. 

The field of smart home technology has grown by leaps and bounds over the last several years. As a result, there are a number of new products available that can add convenience and security to any home. Many people became aware of smart home devices with the introduction of the smart thermostat. Today, smart thermostats are only the beginning. Smart devices are helping people manage their schedules, their grocery lists, their home lighting, and even their home security.  Ideally, all these devices will work together to make life a bit easier, and a bit safer, too. One group of smart home security devices that are gaining in popularity are smart door locks. Smart door locks are also seeing a bit of innovation recently, with some companies adding facial recognition capability. Facial recognition makes it possible to operate a door lock with nothing but your face.

Face Recognition Tech for Door Locks

As far back as 2016, manufacturers started talking about smart locks with face recognition. The buzz has continued to grow as mainstream tech devices with facial recognition like the iPhone®’s latest models have hit the market. In this type of smart door lock, the lock uses facial recognition, leveraging advanced analytics to identify a person’s face at the door.

With locks like the FL1000 from ZKTeco, technology has been designed to allow homeowners to unlock their doors with nothing but a smile. The lock has a dual camera that boasts the ability to recognize faces within 0.2 seconds. Within the application, you can register up to 100 faces and manage their ability to control the locking mechanism within the door. There are also other ways to lock the smart door, including a key fob and code.

Another model currently available is the Corum Security CS-100. The company promises that their lock can’t be fooled by images or models. A code, fob and mechanical key are also available on the locking mechanism. Infrared technology ensures the smart door lock even works in dim and dark conditions.

Elecpro is coming to market with another option, the US: E Smart Lock. The US: E features facial recognition, fingerprint scanning, smart phone access, code-based entry, key fob entry, as well as using a physical key. Elecpro claims that the lock can recognize up to 100 faces and cannot be fooled by pictures and video.

Future of Smart Door Locks

In the summer of 2017, the International Journal of Engineering Trends and Applications published a research article on the future of facial recognition door locks using Microsoft Face API. Future work in the field included the following:

  • If a blacklisted person attempted to open a smart door lock, the system will send an emergency alert to home or business owner.

  • Eventually, the facial recognition technology will be able to differentiate between friends and strangers. Alerts can be sent directly to the account owner to let them know someone they don’t know is at the door.

  • A voice assistant can be added to smart door lock as a way to improve the user experience.

  • A cloud-based database can be utilized to store the video footage of those who are at the door.

  • Transport layer security can add extra security to smart door locks that include facial recognition features.

Some concerns around the proliferation of facial recognition data has slowed the spread of facial recognition technology in smart home devices. With companies facing backlash over  mining social media  for facial recognition data, there is mounting concern about how companies might use this data in the future.

Drawbacks of Smart Door Locks with Face Recognition

A few problems can occur with smart door locks that include facial recognition. For one, accuracy has yet to be at 100 percent. Due to this issue, there absolutely needs to be a backup method to enter the home. Fortunately, most of the locks available to do have alternative means of operation. So, if the facial recognition feature isn’t working properly, the lock should still function.

Other drawbacks may arise from facial recognition technology in general. One concern involves the permanence of your facial recognition data. You can change a password if you have a problem, you cannot change your face. Privacy, as mentioned earlier, is also a concern with facial recognition technology. There’s evidence that some companies are being unethical in how they are collecting and selling facial recognition data.

While this technology is promising, there is still a way to go before it becomes ubiquitous in our neighborhoods.

Krista Bruton is a DFW-based writer who covers smart home security and consumer protection.

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