Former Apple and Microsoft engineers build a $700 smart lock

Otto is one of the most expensive smart locks on the market — and doesn't even come with a key.

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Digital lock Otto is the latest smart lock, a $700 digital device that promises to work without a key. The smart lock connects via a Android or iOS smartphone — like many other smart locks — and instantly knows when someone arrives or leaves that's been granted access. Otto locks and unlocks just by sensing the smartphone via a Bluetooth connection. Users don't have to press codes, and don't have to pull a smartphone from a bag or pocket, they just press on the face of the device.

Like other smart locks, Otto says owners can grant permission to other users, can set up access codes if they want, will see full logs of everyone who has entered or left a door armed with Otto, and can open a door remotely from anywhere. Don't own a smartphone? A four-digit code can be set up to use instead which requires turning the device, like a lock tumbler, to bring up numbers which are flashed (too largely we think) on the front of the device.

Otto lacks a keyhole — mean it can't be picked, but there also isn't a physical back up in case the device malfunctions. Sure Otto says Apple, Microsoft and GoPro alum built the device. But digital locks aren't without concern. Sometimes electronics fail, and a having a key as a backup can be a relief. Otto runs on battery — changing that battery is crucial, and the company says Otto will give three to five days notice when batteries are running low. Also, losing a smartphone could mean someone else has a way to unlock Otto. The company web site tells people to launch find their phone or wipe their phone remotely — which is not ideal, as, honestly, not everything is backed up to iCloud.

Otto is set to start shipping this fall, with orders starting on its web site now. For a limited time, Otto is even throwing in the delivery and installation, normally a $150 fee — and required according to the site — for free.

Alexa Skills Using an Amazon Echo to get weather reports, order groceries and listen to music is fine. But there are hundreds of little tricks Alexa can do for anyone willing to invest a bit of time. Called Alexa Skills, these added abilities are digital cheat sheets for the smart home. We've culled together about 50 of the most fun to get people more fluent with Alexa Skills.

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