Goji: Here's Your Semi-Perfect Camera-Equipped Smart LockS

Smart Locks are now a thing. Believe it or not. UniKey arguably kicked off the whole craze last year when they appeared on ABC's Shark Tank, then Lockitron got some buzz with its latest iteration (though it did first pop up in early 2011) and just last week August launched its smart lock. This week its a camera-equipped smart lock from Goji that comes with 24/7 customer service.

The San Francisco-based company is launching an Indiegogo campaign today with a $120,000 goal and December rollout. Goji's $278 take is a little different than the rest but ultimately the same. Like UniKey, Goji replaces your entire locking solution but Goji adds a front-facing component that looks exactly like a Nest thermometer coupled with a Lockitron. The lock communicates with your iPhone or Android device over Bluetooth SMART (read: 4.0, low energy) and links up to your Wi-Fi network giving users remote access. That Internet connectivity also allows Goji to snap, upload and push a photo to your phone of anyone who has permission to enter through a Goji-equipped door. But if your network goes down, you lose any feature reliant upon that connection.

Each Goji system ships with two programmable key fobs in case someone doesn't have a smartphone and four admin accounts that can issue digital keys. It should be noted that each key fob can be programmed for multiple locks, not just one lock. And like the August and Lockitron, Goji says its using 128-bit AES encryption that's baked into Bluetooth SMART.

Goji's interior module is the "heart" of the system, CEO and founder Gabriel Bestard-Ribas recently told me in a phone interview. It's the literal brains of the operation housing the motorized mechanism, the batteries and an antennae that knows when you're inside, which is something of a mystery for both August and Lockitron. The outward facing piece of Goji's system has two antennas that work in unison with the interior piece to know when someone with credentialed access is outside or inside, supposedly eliminating any false unlocks. The digitized display also greets guests by name and keeps a log of everyone that's come and gone, which you can view in the app.

Included in that $278 package is 24/7 customer service—something others don't—that doesn't cost any extra. But if you lose your phone and don't have a physical key, you have to call Goji who will then send out a locksmith to let you back in. Here's the other thing though, if you decide to blacklist someone's key, they could still get in. In the unlikely event that your Wi-Fi network goes down and your lock is unable to update its list of blacklisted keys, and the device whose digital key you've rejected is offline or in airplane mode, said key could still gain access having never hit Goji's server, thus having its permissions rejected. Otherwise, you'd have to call Goji and have them send someone out to manually update the lock. It might seem like an unlikely scenario but it could happen. People are crazy. I'm just saying that it could happen, not that it will. (Editor's note: Look for an upcoming piece on the overall security of smart locks tomorrow. Update: read it here.)

In all fairness, each smart lock alternative comes with its pros and cons and Goji's camera feature might interest you, but I'm not 100 percent comfortable announcing to the world that I have a newfangled "smart" lock with its outside module and higher price tag. But it's still early days for smart locks and a lot can change between now and the time these devices ship. At least I hope so. [Goji]