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Shepherd Lock is a secretly awesome retrofit deadbolt

This lock can foil burglars and let you into your place with a touch. Plus, you can keep your existing deadbolt.

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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.

Shepherd Lock didn't catch my attention the first, second or third time I saw it. I repeatedly walked past this unassuming gadget a number of times here at CES 2020. The exterior looks like an ordinary deadbolt. It touts itself as the "first keyless" smart lock. Uh huh. Sure it is. Smart locks are a dime a dozen at this point. 

But there's a good reason the exterior of Shepherd Lock looks so ordinary. The gadget from startup Passive Bolt uses your existing deadbolt. Again, not a big deal. August and others have popularized retrofit locks, which are easier to install. Even better, Shepherd Lock is a touch entry retrofit lock that uses automotive grade tech to transform your existing deadbolt into a touch sensor. And that's kind of awesome. 

The main trick is similar to one used by the Kwikset Kevo, but you had to replace your whole lock with the Kevo. If your phone, smart watch or key fob are in range, the lock's Bluetooth transmitter senses it. Touch the deadbolt and the door opens. Touch when you're leaving and the lock secures. 

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You can install the lock with a screwdriver and after removing the interior thumb-turn. Then the lock uses a little bit of electricity and the metal part of your exterior deadbolt to add a capacitive touch sensor to your own deadbolt hardware. The sensor is supposedly accurate enough to tell if someone is trying to pick your lock and it will send you an alert and make sure the deadbolt stays secure. 

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Installation of the Shepherd Lock should be pretty simple. 

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The Shepherd Lock even uses proprietary sensors to tell the angle of your door in real time. I saw this work at CES Unveiled, the minishow that kicked off CES on Sunday night. The app updates to show the angle of the door and reacts as you open it and close it. That tech is built into the lock itself with no additional sensors and will be able to alert you if you left your door open, even a crack. 

You will need an additional Wi-Fi bridge to control the lock from afar, which is a shame, and it's an extra $70. Shepherd Lock first debuted with a prototype a year ago. Now, after a successful Kickstarter, the final production model is ready and it'll go on sale in March. Smart locks are a dime a dozen at CES, but the Shepherd Lock is an unassuming lock from a startup that looks compelling enough to compete with the crowd.