Though locks are remarkably engineered to begin with—even a basic pin-and-tumbler setup is a feat of modern engineering—things get really nifty when you start adding today's new lock technology into the mix. Wireless transmitters, entry logs, and digital cameras are making them as advanced as intricate (and sometimes higher-priced) home alarm systems. The change makes sense: While alarms do serve an important purpose by monitoring your home and alerting you to possible intrusions, locks are always the first line of defense against unwanted guests of any sort.

Lockitron

Did I remember to lock the door? It's a fear that's plagued us all at some point, and one that Lockitron, a crowdfunded product from the folks at Apigy Inc., looks to assuage. It uses a combination of wireless technologies like Bluetooth and near field communications (NFC) to give you wireless access to your lock via your smartphone or tablet. The apparatus fits over almost any existing deadbolt, meaning no messy installation. An additional $5 monthly fee lets authorized phones access the Lockitron via text message—simply add the number to your device's white list and the phone associated with it can enter your home by messaging the lock, but only during times of your choosing.

Home NetWerks Wi-Fi Enabled Lock

Like the Lockitron and other wireless locking devices, Home NetWerks' line of Wi-Fi locks offers a list of cool, useful features like keyless entry and remote access or programming. Unlike other products, however, you don't need extra gadgets to make the most of this lock. Instead of searching for a smartphone, the device uses a standard ten-digit keypad to control access to your home, making it great for those of us with no need for an expensive computer in our pockets. The concept is still decidedly high-tech: You can program the lock from any computer with Internet access, assign temporary guest codes and more. Extra features, like the ability to unlock via text message, carry an additional $10 annual fee. When some competing products's services cost $5 a month, that's a steal.

Goji

Goji's lock technology approach offers a visual advantage other smart locks lack: Alongside wireless access and guest keys, the device can take a picture of anyone who comes to your door and send it directly to your phone, letting you know exactly who's at your doorstep. It also has timed entry options, allowing you unlock the door for visitors, housekeepers, or maintenance staff who may need access to your place even when you're not around. Throw in 24/7 customer support—the lock's product page claims you'll "never be locked out of your home again"—and a simple, DIY-focused installation, and you're sure to have one of the coolest locks on the block.

August

A "simple, social" lock technology, according to its inventors, the August Smart Lock offers a great deal of functionality. The lock keeps a log of every person entering and exiting your home and lets them leave messages in a digital guest book. Auto-unlock functionality senses when a smartphone you've authorized for access is near and unlocks the door automatically when it's in range, saving you and your guests from fumbling with your key chain in the dark. Its battery-powered tech means you can get in even when the power is out, and sends you reminders when the battery runs low, ensuring no surprise lockout disasters.

Smart Locks: The Future of Lock Technology

With these three devices and others coming down the pipeline, new lock technology that allows communication with smartphones seems to be a must-have in an automated home. If simple keys aren't cutting it for you anymore, a smart lock could save you a lot of hassle—and better yet, make your home that much cooler.