Why you should care
When it comes to smarting up our devices, why should garages get left out in the cold?
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If you have a garage, you’ve likely experienced a nagging bout of door doubt at some point. It’s that sinking feeling you get after leaving home, and it starts when you’re about two blocks away: “Did I actually close the garage?” But you’re probably running late and the kids are arguing in the backseat, so it’s no wonder you can’t recall. Until a year ago, you had two choices: Double back and check, wasting precious minutes, or just take the chance that thieves won’t view a wide-open garage as an invitation to help themselves to its contents. Today, however, there’s a third, smarter way to go.
In 2010, the Chamberlain Group, which has been making garage door openers since 1954, set its sights on the smart home and the broader Internet of Things. Not long ago it launched a new line of connected garage openers dubbed MyQ. Cory Sorice, vice president of marketing at Chamberlain, says the product is designed for those looking for peace of mind.
If it turns out you did leave the door open, a simple tap on the app will close the door — no matter where you are.
If you connect the MyQ opener to your Wi-Fi network via the optional MyQ Internet Gateway ($50), you can use the free iOS or Android app to check the status of your garage door in real time. If it turns out you actually did leave the door open, a simple tap on the app will close the door, whether you’re two blocks away or halfway around the world. You can also set up push notifications and email alerts, such as “If my garage door is open for longer than 30 minutes, let me know.”
If your current door opener works just fine and you don’t want to replace the whole thing just for a little more convenience, Chamberlain’s MyQ Garage is a $129 add-on, which Sorice says will “work with nearly every brand of garage door opener made after 1993.” There are alternatives (Ascend, Iris, Garageio), but so far, there are no garage door openers that have the built-in connectivity of the MyQ models. Available at major DIY retailers, Chamberlain MyQ-compatible openers start at $160 (MyQ Gateway not included), while kits that include the Gateway start at $248.
But the big question: Given that your garage door (and thus possibly your home) can be opened via the Internet, are there any safety caveats? Casey Ellis, CEO of Bugcrowd, a company that helps businesses find security flaws in their products through coordinated bug-bounty programs, cautions that “devices which perform a critical function [locking a door, activating a smoke alarm, controlling a power outlet] are more likely to be targeted by attackers.” So, to be safe, consumers should always install software or firmware updates when the manufacturer recommends them.
A connected garage opener can’t do anything about your uncooperative kids, but at least you can drive off in the mornings knowing that door doubt can be a thing of the past.