A smart lock, a smart doorbell and a smart camera rolled into one, BlueGuard wants to take care of everything you could need to keep your front door safe with a single device. From electronics maker Lark-Wi, BlueGuard combines the functionality of popular smart devices like the August Smart Lock and the SkyBell Video Doorbell .
The Bluetooth-enabled deadbolt can talk with your phone and unlock when you get close. It also features a motion sensor and a camera with a two-way microphone, so you can see who's at the door and chat with them remotely.
Lark-Wi is currently raising money to finish the design and bring it to mass market via a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGogo. Given the intricacy of the product, I was surprised to see the campaign only sought $6,000. Lark-Wi's BlueGuard has already achieved that goal and has beaten it by an extra few thousand.
Backers can still take advantage of discount packages, though the cheapest have all sold out. A $119 contribution will net you a single lock, $278 gets you two plus two compatible smart LED bulbs for your porch. Both packages include international shipping. The single-lock early-bird package converts to approximately £80 and AU$154. The combo pack converts to £187 and AU$360.
BlueGuard will be appealingly customizable if the promised features work as planned. Yes, the door can unlock when you get close, but if you don't trust geofencing, or want to wait until you're right up to the door, you can have it sense your presence and open with the touch of a button.
Other family members can access this feature via BlueGuard's Bluetooth enabled fobs that attach to a keychain and can trigger the same response from the deadbolt when they get close to it. Two fobs are included in the packages above.
The front of the lock is also adorned with a keyhole and a keypad, so you have a couple of old fashioned means of entrance as well. That's probably best, since BlueGuard draws power from four double-A batteries. Should something go wrong or if the batteries die unexpectedly, being able to get inside with a key would prove a major relief. It also adds to the customization options should a family member not like the high-tech approach to working the deadbolt.
For guests, you can assign temporary digital keys for easy access, or you can always remotely lock and unlock the door yourself. BlueGuard uses Bluetooth for short range communication and to unlock when you're close, but it also connects to the cloud via Wi-Fi for remote access anywhere.
Being able to communicate with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth while also running a doorbell and a camera with alerts and a live-view mode seems like a lot for four double-A batteries to manage. Lark-Wi claims the beefier lithium ion versions of those batteries can keep your lock running at full capacity for up to year. "Normal use" is specified, though, and not clearly defined.
Without an option to wire BlueGuard, needing to constantly swap batteries would certainly dampen the appeal of all of the tasks it can juggle.
The number of options BlueGuard offers to unlock your door beats out August, but it'll need to prove as reliable and convenient to take the place of the latter as our favorite high-tech deadbolt. It'll just need to work as promised to be the best smart doorbell we've seen.
Again, BlueGuard is a multitasker. It's a smart lock, but it also has a doorbell embedded on its front along with a video camera and a microphone. Supposedly, you can customize notifications to receive video clips or pictures when someone comes to the door. You can also chat with them via a live video call.
The smart doorbells we've tested so far have been underwhelming. The picture on Ring isn't clear. Like BlueGuard, it offers battery power, but it also gives you the option to wire it. Using batteries made the problem even worse and we often had trouble recognizing familiar faces.
Ring also lags significantly. After you press the doorbell, it could take as much as a minute before your phone would notify you of the event, meaning an impatient delivery person would already be gone. SkyBell performed slightly better overall, and had motion detection like BlueGuard, but that motion detection proved spotty at best and the picture quality was low in resolution.
Since BlueGuard's camera will sit lower than either Ring or Skybell, as it's part of the deadbolt as opposed to a detached doorbell, I'd imagine it'll be at a disadvantage in terms of both viewing and listening angle from the get go. It needs to overcome that and prove more reliable in terms of picture quality and notifications than its predecessors to stand out.
BlueGuard's bitten off a lot, between the lock, the doorbell, the camera, and the LED that can link to the system. Running that system for a reasonable length on four double-A batteries also looks like a tall task. If it can succeed in each of these smart categories individually, and not force you to constantly swap the batteries to do so, BlueGuard stands to be a winning combination.