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The coolest smart lock at CES is invisible

The Level Lock replaces your own lock's guts to make it smart while you keep your keys.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET
This story is part of CES 2020, our complete coverage of the showroom floor and the hottest new tech gadgets around.

So much of the smart home pitch is touchscreens and dazzling graphics. AI, VR and shiny new digital ways to do everything (and probably with a camera) are all around us. Sometimes the coolest tech is the tech you don't see at all. The Level Lock reaffirmed that for me when I saw it in action here at CES 2020 in Las Vegas

It's not much to look at, and that's the whole point. The Level Lock hides inside your door, replacing only the internal components of your existing lock. Remove your exterior hardware, replace your deadbolt with the Level Lock, then put your hardware back on the door. 

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The Level Lock replaces just the inside of your lock to give your regular hardware smart lock functionality. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

You can continue to use your old keys, but with all the added features of a smart lock, including: 

  • Sharing access with friends or family in the app
  • Remote unlocking with HomeKit
  • Siri voice control for locking or unlocking
  • Autounlocking with geofencing
  • Autolocking when your door stays open too long
  • Keyless entry with your mobile phone

How does the Level Lock get any power without a big, AA-battery-holding container on the back of your door? I'm so glad you asked. It uses a CR2 lithium battery that hides inside the deadbolt. It's honestly one of the coolest lock power solutions I've seen. The folks at Level Home say that battery should last you a full year, and the lock itself is tested for 1 million operations. 

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Level Lock's battery sits inside the deadbolt.

Level.co

This smart lock is a great option for someone who might not want to advertise how much tech is in their home by putting a fancy smart lock keypad on their front door. It's the sort of smart home innovation that makes me smile, because it's innovative, unobtrusive and thoughtfully designed without adding more screens to my life. 

The Level Lock uses Bluetooth to connect to your smart home and to take full advantage of remote access or HomeKit voice commands, you will need a HomeKit bridge, like an Apple TV or iPad. There's no word yet on possible integration with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.

The Level Lock is still in the preorder stage for $199, but it will jump to $249 (about £190 or AU$360) when it does go on sale later this year.