The technology industry in Charleston has grown into a major sector over the last few years. In fact, our city has been dubbed “Silicon Harbor,” a play on words based on California’s Silicon Valley, the home of many tech startups and corporations. With this growth comes an influx of tech savvy companies and individuals who bring along innovation and creativity. So what does that have to do with you and your Charleston home?

Imagine this. You’ve misplaced your house keys. Again. You check all the windows and the back door, but everything is locked up tight. You try calling friends or family members who have copies of your key, but no one’s picking up. There’s really nothing left to do but call a locksmith. Locksmiths can be expensive, though, and there’s no telling how long you’ll have to wait for one to show up. Then there’s the business of changing the locks if you can’t find your key, making new copies for everyone else… For those of us who are lacking in the organization department, the struggle is real!

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This is where that creative innovation we mentioned can help. We’ve got two words for you: home automation. Home automation is no longer “the wave of the future.” It’s here now, and it’s a lot more common than you probably think it is. Smart locks in particular are becoming pretty popular among homeowners. They’re convenient, easy to use, and actually quite affordable depending on how technical you want to get. More basic models will only set you back a hundred dollars or less, while the super high-tech versions tend to cost a few hundred.

In a nutshell, smart locks are electromechanical locks that can be operated without a physical key. They work wirelessly through a keypad, a smart phone, or a key fob that is programmed to provide authorization either to just the homeowner or to multiple users. Some locks even allow you to assign different key codes for each user. Others work using biometric information like fingerprints.

Local companies like Hi-Tec Systems in Mount Pleasant, an accredited Better Business Bureau company,  are busy making home automation accessible to residents all over the Greater Charleston area. They offer products that integrate all of your household systems into one easy platform that includes remote access via your smart phone, computer, or tablet.

In our opinion, having remote access of door locks and security systems is the coolest aspect of home automation. Locking or unlocking a door wirelessly when you’re standing in front of it is one thing, but being able to access locks from wherever you travel sounds like an invaluable feature. Using the home automation app that controls your smart locks, you will be able to unlock the door for guests when you’re not home or check to make sure the last person to leave the house locked up. In addition to enabling you to control security and lock systems remotely, the integrated system can also send email and text notifications that inform you that a lock has been opened or when access has been denied. Smart locks can be connected to other home automation features as well, such as smart doorbells and security systems. Smart doorbells will send you a text alert whenever someone rings the bell; you’ll never have to wonder whether or not a package has been delivered while you’re away. Installing a smart security system along with your smart locks allows you to be notified when the system is armed or disarmed, when the alarm goes off, or when there is a power outage. Live-streaming video means you can check in whenever you want through the app. The system will also send reminders if you forget to arm it when you leave the house.

Home automation is a topic innovators and creative minds have been researching and experimenting with for decades. In the 1950s, there was a huge surge in interest in systems that would help make housework easier. Some of those ideas might have seemed like impossible dreams back then, but we think that in the near future, features like smart locks will become standard in most homes. Smart locks and security systems don’t just allow you the convenience of control from wherever you happen to be. They also provide peace of mind and the knowledge that all is well at home, allowing you to rest easy while you’re away.