Lauren Goode

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With August, Yves Behar Brings Fine Design to a “Smart” Door Lock

If the next big thing is the Internet of Things, Yves Behar wants in. And he’ll get there the most obvious way: Through your door.

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The industrial designer, known for the look of One Laptop Per Child, Jawbone products, the Ouya game console and SodaStream seltzer-maker, has been working with tech veteran Jason Johnson of Founder’s Den to launch August, a smart lock system for your door.

August works in conjunction with the iPhone and uses low-energy Bluetooth to automatically lock and unlock the door as the homeowner nears or enters. A web dashboard and compatible mobile app offer controls, like the sharing of digital keys, and show logs of who has entered your home — and when.

Behar and Johnson appeared on stage today with AllThingsD’s Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher to demo the August lock, using a dummy door-frame to show how the lock works.

First, they showed how Behar could invite Johnson to his house through the August iPhone app by offering him a set of digital keys.

Johnson then made his way to a fictitious barbecue at Behar’s house, his hands full of beer and his phone still in his pocket.

The demo gods, unfortunately, had other plans, and Johnson’s first trip to the front door — which was supposed to unlock automatically — didn’t work out so well. But afterwards, when Johnson took the phone out of his pocket, the door unlocked and locked again as expected.

“You don’t have to connect to your DSL, your Wi-Fi, nothing. It runs by itself,” Behar said. “Our goal with August is to really make this available to everyone, not just the techies.”

Afterwards, they showed how sets of digital keys can be revoked should you want to kick someone out.

August is now taking reservations on the locks, which cost $199 a piece, and expects to ship the locks next November or December.

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To be sure, this isn’t the first “smart” lock idea out there. Many lock makers offer similar solutions, as home automation becomes a (more accessible) reality.

Lock company Schlage launched Schlage Link, a $200 wireless lock system, a few years ago now. The company also offers a touchscreen deadbolt lock. Kwikset, another leading lock maker in the U.S., recently partnered with Unikey (of “Shark Tank” fame) to create Kevo, an iPhone-compatible lock that, like August, connects and communicates with the phone via Bluetooth. Unikey has said it expects the Kevo to retail for under $250.

And in start-up land, last year a company called Lockitron successfully “crowdfunded” a keyless lock that uses your home’s Wi-Fi network to create a bridge between the lock and your iPhone. That lock is listed on the company’s website for $179, and will ship in mid-July.

Behar and Johnson were quick to point out the differences between August and competing products. Bluetooth, they insist, is a more reliable option because Wi-Fi enabled door locks are rendered useless in the case of home power outages (most, however, have physical-key components as back ups).

Also, some locks require a bulky box on the front door, and installation can be difficult. August has a two-step installation process and the lock goes on the back of the door, facing the inside of your home. The lock is still a standard lock on the outside, making it the system less obvious to landlords or potential crooks.

And, as you might imagine, August comes with a touch of fine design: It’s round and unobtrusive, made of machined aluminium and comes in a handful of different colors. Sort of like a Jambox for your door lock. Behar, of course, wouldn’t have it any other way.

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