How can I unlock my front door when I'm out of town?

With the Schlage LiNK system, you can use devices like a Web-enabled smartphone to unlock your door. See more pictures of essential gadgets.
© Schlage

At the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show, technology companies from around the world gathered to demonstrate the newest products and concepts that they hope will become the next big thing on the market. Products ranged from high-definition televisions to deafening sound systems to the latest in computer microprocessors. But among the companies you'd expect to find at an electronics show, there were a couple that might have surprised you.

Think of all the things in your life that fit into the category of high-tech. There's a good chance the lock on your front door isn't among them. At least one company hopes to change that with a new lock system that brings the simple mechanism of the door lock into the 21st century. That company is Schlage and the system is the Schlage LiNK.

The Schlage LiNK system's basic components are an electronic locking system, a wireless control unit called a Bridge and some proprietary software you install on your computers or Web-enabled cell phones. You'll need a high-speed Internet connection as well. Why do you need such a high-tech setup? It's because the Schlage LiNK lets you control your home's locks remotely.

The locking mechanism for the LiNK looks a lot like other electronic lock systems. It's an electronic bolt lock paired with a standard keypad with numbers ranging from 0 to 9. Owners can create multiple four-digit codes to lock and unlock the doors. There are dozens of different electronic locking mechanisms on the market already.

The LiNK system relies on a wireless technology that Schlage calls Z-Wave. Z-Wave is a narrow band of low-powered radio frequencies that the LiNK system uses to relay information and commands. These commands include the ability to lock and unlock the door using a device like a laptop or cell phone. There's no need to make extra keys or hide a spare under the welcome mat -- in fact, you can unlock your door without ever calling a locksmith.