Auto unlocking a door when getting really close to / standing in front of the door

I have zwave door locks set up for all of the entry doors (4 in total), and already have contact sensors in place to auto lock the doors when closed. Now I’m hoping to make it possible so that I (or my wife) can get close to say, door A, with our mobile phones, and door A would auto unlock (while door B,C,D stays closed). Kind of like the grocery store auto-opening doors. This would be very helpful when we’re say carrying stuff and then the door would automatically unlock without having to put down the stuff and manually entering the PIN to unlock the door.

Note that this is different from what an “arrival sensor” does which is to run a routine when you’re arriving home within a geo fence. I want it to operate individually for each door, and only when you get really close to the door.

Zwave motion sensors placed on the outside of the door will not work due to security. Neither will a zwave push button. I can only think of using the mobile phone as a sensor, or perhaps a physical sensor that me and my wife can carry in the pocket…etc.

Any feedback?

I use webCoRE to only unlock my door when motion is detected AND someone’s presence changed to present in the last ten minutes AND the door has been locked for at least 10 minutes. I also get an SMS to let me know when this specific set of events has occurred. Hasn’t failed me yet.

This is a good option. What security issues?

You maybe able to use an infrared sensor sorta like the garage sensor to ensure that nothing is in the way. It shoots a beam to a receiver so if you break the beam, it can trigger an open/close contact which then you could use a rule similar to the one @Andy_Baker posted.

I use Zooz outdoor motion sensors and Ring doorbells for my exterior motion needs.

I use tinycam person detection to trigger a webCoRE webhook. Keeps random stuff from setting it off. I also have a monitored alarm that would go off in the event someone did get in.

Thanks Andy, great one! Do you have a camera for every entry door in that case? Which camera model do you use?

The problem, as you noted in another post, is that grocery doors don’t distinguish between two people. Anyone coming close triggers the open.

Instead, you need “micro location.“ This is something that I have written about quite a bit over the years because I myself use a wheelchair and I have what I call “the bus stop problem“ where it may take a driver five or 10 minutes to unload me at my stop which is half a block from the house. I do not want my door opening during that time, I want it to stay locked until I am at the end of the wheelchair ramp and can see the front door.

At my house, I do this with Ibeacons, and we can discuss this if you want.

However, over the last few months I have helped a couple of friends with similar issues, and at this point, I highly recommend the Yale connected by August Wi-Fi/Bluetooth locks. They now have an official integration with smartthings. Really nice locks and as long as you can put the connect bridge, which needs to be plugged in, within 10 feet or so of the door with a clear line of sight they seem to be very reliable.

They have a really interesting approach to Geo presence, very different from what most devices do. Instead of having a single region border, they use one distance to Mark you “away“ and a different distance to mark you “arriving.“.

The “arriving” distance is just what you would want: basically when you are pretty close to the front door. Maybe 10 to 15 feet. It’s a Bluetooth connection to your phone.

The “away” distance, though is a minimum of 200 m and uses a combination of GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.

What that means is that once you have arrived home, momentary drops in signal strength will not cause the system to think you’ve left again. That’s really nice and greatly improves the reliability.

I have guest privileges at two friends’ houses which work at specific times of day, and it’s just worked great every time. So I’ve been very impressed.

I know that would mean replacing the door lock that you have now, but you could do it just for the main entrance and any other method is going to require buying some additional devices anyway.

The following model works with Ifttt, smartthings, HomeKit (if you have an iPhone), Alexa, google home, and some other integrations.

It’s just one of those quick and easy solutions if you are willing to spend the money. Otherwise, like I said, we can talk about some other alternatives. :sunglasses:

1 Like

Thanks Andy. We have an entry door that goes out to our deck and we go in and out that door quite frequently. In that case the presence sensor would always report “present” since we’re always within our property. I guess the rule wouldn’t work in that case?

Thanks rontalley. I used to have quite a few zwave motion sensors but they all failed me when I placed them outdoor. Whenever it’s cold, or when there’s wind blowing, or any temperature change, the sensors would trigger false alarm. Is the Zooz motion sensor working great for you so far?

You are probably using their indoor motion sensors. They released a new model in 2019 specifically made for outdoor use:


WOW that’s awesome. I must have missed that new one since I kind of gave it up on putting motion sensors outside with all the false triggers and have since stopped looking. Thanks for the heads up!


Seems like “Extra” security by adding a motion. I have my locks unlock when presence sensor arrives.

It could be:
If motion changes to motion
Contact has not opened in last 5 minutes
Presence changed to present in last 5 minutes

This would allow the lock to only unlock under those conditions. Someone would have to be waiting on you to break in and in that case…well call 911

1 Like

Yep, they work pretty good too.


Camera on each door. Just a simple Swann coax/dvr setup. I use tinycam running on a chrome book for motion notifications and webCoRE triggering on the feeds.

I have my auto lock timers adjust based on a combo of location mode and other activities. For example, I don’t auto lock when music is playing on my back porch or my windows are open during the day out if I have people over. Things like that. Super specific to me but that’s what I like.


Thanks, very interesting approach. I will look into the Yale locks and if they’re more suitable for my needs I will consider switching. I love my Schlage zwave deadbolts though, they never fail and work every single time, with perfectly stable connection to the hub.

1 Like