Door Unlock Automation? How do you reduce security risks?

Has anyone done any kind of Rule based door unlock? I’ve got a Yale smart lock. I’m wondering what the best way to unlock the lock based on Rules. I know there is potential security risks here but wondering how it can be risks can be minimised? I read somewhere that the Nest Video Door Bell is supposed to be able to recognise a person? Does anyone know if this is true? What about the Ring Video Door Bell does that support face recognition? I don’t plan to use face recognition solely, I am thinking of something like this:

If my presence sensor changes from away to present and within x minutes your face is detected by the door bell then unlock? I don’t want to use my presence sensor solely to unlock because sometimes the precense sensor will detect i’m home as I enter the road but I would like the door to unlock only when my presence sensor has changed from away to present and then it detects that the person of that presence sensor is detected by the video face recognition. Is this possible?

There is a project on webCoRE that does this using Sighthound to process captured images from a Ring doorbell. It’s complicated for sure, but looks amazing. I know for a fact that there is no handler yet for the Nest Hello, but you might be able to get a cheap Foscam IP camera ($35-50 on Amazon) and utilize that for this purpose though.

Beyond that, I rely on my presence sensors. They are fairly accurate and only trigger my Welcome Home piston about .5 miles from my house and unlock my doors. I’ve been working on using my router (Nighthawk R8500) running OpenTomato firmware and a custom bash script to post a call into webCoRE and trigger a piston, but I haven’t gotten it completely working yet.

I live in a reasonably dense urban area, so I share your concern. Presence sensing is not local enough, since I could leave the area to go to the store, then go past my house on the next street over on the way to the park at the end of my block, but not be anywhere “near” my house. However, since I have a garage, I use the presence sensor to turn on “Arriving” mode. When ST is in that mode, opening the garage door triggers a routine to unlock the garage entry (and flips St into “Home” mode). On the other hand, I don’t have any automation set up to unlock my front door because I don’t have a way to be sure that I’m standing in front of it when that happens.

That’s my setup for using a secondary trigger along with presence. I don’t know anything about face recognition in either doorbell but if it’s available, that could be used in a similar way.

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Like @MarkTr I live in a dense area and sometimes passing by a back-road will trigger my ST to think i’m home. Therefore unlocking just purely based on if a presence sensor comes home isn’t an option as that means my door can remain unlock for a period of time if i’m passing by the area. I do have a netatmo presence camera on my front door and I can get access to the pictures stored via the netatmo API so that could be an option. The other option I am thinking is that if I get a smart door bell and as I am coming home the presence sensor will change to present after this happens within x amount of seconds if i press the door bell x amount of times then maybe it unlocks the door? That way the chances of it being me are more likely. Ofcourse there is a chance that I can be somewhere nearby and coincidentally someone can ring the bell at that moment in time. I could also make it a combination of press the door bell and flap the letterbox which uses door contact sensor.

I had to address what I called the “bus stop” problem. It can take several minutes from the time the bus stops until I’m actually at my front door, and I don’t want my front door to unlock until I’m close enough to see it.

My solution was to switch to using Ibeacons, which can be set to a much smaller detection zone, but it is only easy to do this with SmartThings if you have an iOS phone or tablet. It’s possible with android, but more difficult.

The SmartThings arrival sensor also has a fairly small detection zone, but it’s one of those devices that works well for some people and not for others. Usually you just have to try it and see.

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I automate my lock/unlock with Webcore. My presence works with bluetooth (using a rpi) and my wifi router.

We got in the habit of locking manually just in case as its just a button.

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I went with Tasker prompting if I want to unlock the door, semi-auto? :slight_smile:


Why use presence to unlock the door, you have a Yale SmartLock why not use codes to unlock the door?
If you’re using a Garage Door, then you can use a custom app to trigger your garage door to open X seconds after your presence “arrives”, this is used by many folks who’re driving/walking upto a house and know it takes then X seconds/minutes to reach the house after the presence sensor triggers their position.

Then why buy a smartlock?

I think using a keypad kind of defeats the purpose of why one might want a keyless lock. When you have a keyless car you can go up to it and as long as u are carrying your key it unlocks for you. So I think having the house lock do that is also convenient. As long as you are carrying the presence sensor then it should be able to unlock for you as long as certain other parameters for security are met. Plus typing in a pin code has the risk of prying eyes seeing what you are entering

I see where you’re going however I would present an alternate view on security.

A key is physical and fixed. (You can rekey but it’s painful). You can lose it, it can be stolen or copied. If anyone has your key or a copy of it they can unlock your door.

Key codes are virtual, ie you don’t carry anything. Plus you can change it instantly. So if there are prying eyes it’s a breeze to fix.

The other type is presence. Now that’s half way between a key code and a key. It physical like a key. Means it’s can be stolen or lost (not copied). If someone has access to your presence sensor they can now not only unlock your door it also disarm your security system and actually compromise your security more than just having a key.

While a key code still needs to be typed it is inherently more secure than a presence sensor.

Having said that yes a presence sensor is “easier” to use since you don’t have to use your hands (well you still need to unlatch and open your door).

So it’s a trade off between security and convenience :slight_smile:

As for looks the Yale YRD locks look just a sleek. In fact some models like Connexis support both keypad and RFID tags.

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In my case, I am quadriparetic and use a power wheelchair. Automation unlocks the deadbolt and then my service dog opens the door. :sunglasses::dog:

( not my dog, but mine knows the same behavior )


Primarily to lock the door for me. My family is HORRIBLE at locking the door behind them so my SmartLocks lock themselves after a certain period if the contact has not been opened.

Setting the Alarm also locks the doors.

I live in a condensed neighborhood as well but I am fortunate enough where our iPhones does a pretty good of geofencing. Unlocking when we arrive works 98% of the time.

Another great reason for a Smart Lock is Remote Access.

How about assigning a 1 time use key code or a key code that expires after a certain amount of time.

Oooo Oooh what about, “Alexa, Open “secret word”…

Oh wait here’s another one, Ring Ring Hmmm who is it, let me check. Oh, well instead of me walking down the stairs, how about I just press this button next to my bed…

Dammit! The internet is down. Don’t have a key…Thank God I have a key Code that works locally.

Ok ok last one. Alexa, “ Is the front door locked?”

These are all real world uses for me.


(bedtime, on the third floor) “Honey can you check if I locked the front door?” Smart locks have saved me many many late night steps in the last year. Plus, they tell me when our cleaners arrived and left so I can grumble about what our payment works out to hourly, compared to what the individuals who show up are likely making…


I don’t know if this helps, but one way to secure presence sensor activation is to create scripts that automatically re-lock the door if it has not been opened within X minutes.

I do this in webcore. Presence alone can unlock the door, but it re-locks within two minutes if the door is not opened. This does two things: 1. It gives me time to bring in the garbage/recycling pails, gather the mail from the mailbox, etc while still having an unlocked door to easily walk in (such as with groceries), and 2. It re-locks the door if I do not go in! So if I drive by or whatever and the door unlocks, the security gap is minimal.

Basically, someone would have to be waiting around my door all the time, ready to break in, to leverage that. The odds against that incredibly infrequent “accidental unlock” occurring at the exact moment a thief is trying to get in the front door are astronomical enough that I consider it a non-concern.

All that said, I like the idea of biometric access. Then again, if my face can unlock the door then why would I need a presence sensor at all?


I just took delivery of my Yale Conexis L1 lock. I purchased it with a z-wave module but just realised it’s the first generation z-wave so considering returning the z-wave module and buying the second gen from somewhere else. Does anyone know the difference between gen 1 and gen2? I believe security is better on the second gen and the first generation apparently has some vulnerabilities.

For I manually lock my doors, but have a five minute auto-lock.

For auto opening I rely on two presence sensors before unlocking door using WebCore.
My wife’s or my phone is the first sensor, and a SmartThings’s presences fob in our cars is the other one.
If any combination of the phone and car arrival within 3 minutes of each other a door will unlock.

Since the SmartThings fobs have a short range, I need to be in my drive way for it to register as arrived.

If you’re using the new smartthings app, how do you create the presence sensor of your phone to use in webcore?

After moving to the new app earlier this year, most of my automatics broke and I’m struggling to get this one (arguable the most valuable to me) working again.

Unfortunately, you can’t. They changed the design philosophy for security items in the new app. See the following FAQ, it’s the same issue for unlocking doors. :disappointed_relieved:

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The Classic app works great, so I’m curious as to why you want to move to the new app?