US$139 KeyWe smart lock is how all locks should work from now on
Korean company KeyWe has launched what it's calling the "smartest lock ever" on Kickstarter. And with Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth, a touchpad and an old-fashioned backup key, it's certainly swinging for the fences.
The modern pocket is mercifully light compared to all the junk we carried around in the 80s and 90s, but the bulky, jangling keyring persists - at least, for those who haven't yet moved to a smart door lock system. This one looks like a doozy. The KeyWe replaces your current door lock with a smart, battery powered unit that gives you a huge range of different, secure and clever ways to open your door.
Probably my favorite is Bluetooth, which, should you choose, simply detects your phone using a low-powered signal and unlocks the thing when you walk up to the door, then locks it again behind you. True keyless entry. What a concept! Door locks spend 99.999% of their lives impeding the access of people who should be allowed in, and a tiny fraction keeping the boogeyman out. This completely flips the script, your door is always open to you by default if you're carrying your phone.
KeyWe says it's been tested in a high-density Seoul apartment complex chock-full of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals, which is exactly where I'd want it tested. And in case you lose your phone, it's easy to de-register a device so the finder can't walk straight in with it.
If free entry to your own door sounds a bit too scary, you can turn it off and just click a button on an app - a process that works over Wi-Fi too if you buy the Wi-Fi bridge add-on, so you can unlock the door remotely if your guests get in early or there's a delivery to accept. Or you can hook it up to your phone's NFC chip and tap to enter - in fact the team provides a blank NFC key card you can use in the same way.
Or bring nothing out with you at all and just use a keypad numeric code - you can set up any number of these to handle and track various guests and housemates. There's also the option to make a code active for a certain period only, which makes it a good solution for AirBnB-type arrangements, or to have a single use code for deliveries. Every time the door's locked or unlocked, a record is saved in the system, so you can always track who's been coming and going.
If the power goes down, or you don't replace your batteries after being warned, or your phone runs out of battery, KeyWe offers a tried and tested backup plan: an actual key, like savages used to use in the bad old days.
It doesn't have a built-in intercom system like the Gate Smart Lock, and it won't beep your phone to tell you you've left the door ajar like the August DoorSense system, but then it's cheaper than both of those and it's certainly got its own strengths.
How much? Right now on Kickstarter, they're US$139 apiece or two for US$198, with an extra US$50 if you want the Wi-Fi bridge add-on. Final retail will be US$199 each. It's already reached its funding goals, and orders are expected to start shipping in August.
If the project hits US$200,000 - and it's nearly there already - the company will throw in a couple of NFC wristbands, which will be great for going out jogging or sticking on your kids. Here's a video:
Source: KeyWe Kickstarter
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The whole idea of making door lock openable with smartphone has 2 big faults: 1. It makes things more complex and thus more failure prone 2. It adds nothing to usability 3. As smartphones lack decent security, mobile apps probably lousily programmed, then the reason to spend so much on a lock keeps me puzzled.
And last, but not least - person buying this lock gets tired of replacing the battery and reverts back to regular key entry. Which kills the whole point of this lock. Not that it has a point to start with.
The only reason to install such a thing, really is AirBnB or hotel keeping.
I'd be impressed if this featured something like the Abloy line of almost unpickable cylinders.
Temporary keys are also great for other purposes than AirBnB, such as we use it for the cleaner and tradies I trust but can't be home for. Don't need to trust keys with the kids etc.
Oh and I change the batteries so infrequently I couldn't even tell you if it's 6 months or a year. Really simple to do, it's a non issue. If it's useful you do it. Have you given up on your phone because you have to keep charging it?