UniKey-powered Kevo aims to make Apple's iPhone the ultimate secure wireless house key

Posted:
in iPhone edited October 2014
UniKey on Wednesday announced the new Kwikset Kevo, a Bluetooth-connected deadbolt door lock that pairs with Apple's iPhone to make fumbling with house keys a thing of the past.

Kevo


UniKey Technologies Chief Executive Phil Dumas spoke with AppleInsider about the upcoming product, which is a result of a partnership between his company and lock maker Kwikset. The main feature of the Kevo powered by UniKey is its "eKey" functionality, which allows iPhone owners to use Bluetooth Low Energy to open their front door.

Having a wireless digital key opens a whole new world of possibilities, Dumas explained, including the ability to remotely and temporarily provide another iPhone user with an eKey. With this feature, users can grant a limited-time key to a maid or contractor, or more permanent access options to fellow family members or roommates."If you're going to break into this, you might as well break into a bank account." ? UniKey Technologies CEO Phil Dumas

These advanced features are important, Dumas said, because he believes the idea of a smartphone-enabled door lock will never catch on unless it's vastly superior to using a traditional key, all without sacrificing security. The UniKey system allows users to simply keep their iPhone in their pocket to gain authorized secure entry into their home.

"We put a big emphasis on elegance for people to overcome that issue of having a big and bulky door lock on their front door," he said.

Kevo


Using a UniKey product, an iPhone owner just taps on the exterior of the lock to gain access. The system, powered by four AA batteries that last over a year, scans to make sure an authorized iPhone is in range.

Users are notified that the door is unlocked by a flashing green light on the lock face. The system also supports traditional keys, and it includes a wireless keychain fob for non-iPhone users.Kwikset Kevo will be iPhone-only at launch, because of Apple's support for the Bluetooth 4.0 low-energy profile.

Dumas, who has appeared on ABC's "Shark Tank" to pitch his system, said UniKey decided to go iPhone-only at launch because of Apple's established support for the Bluetooth Low Energy profile. As a result, the Kwikset Kevo will be compatible with Apple's Bluetooth 4.0 mobile devices: the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, third- and fourth-generation iPads, iPad mini, and fifth-generation iPod touch.

"Apple is just so much further along with their low energy protocol," he said.

From the company's description, UniKey is a well thought out product. For example, the system is said to know whether the user holding an authorized iPhone is inside or outside of the door. This way, they won't accidentally unlock the door by walking up to it to see who's knocking.

Kevo


The UniKey system also treats a user's iPhone as a physical key, which means multiple phones can't be logged into the account at the same time. If users lose their phone and log into another device, the lost phone's key access will automatically be revoked.

The deadbolt can also be locked with a series of taps even if an authorized smartphone isn't present, allowing visitors to easily lock the front door when letting themselves out of your home.

The Kevo also has support for Kwikset smart key technology, which allows users to re-key the new deadbolt to their old physical key. And the system is backed by what Dumas said is "military-grade encryption" for its wireless entry.

"If you're going to break into this, you might as well break into a bank account," he said.

Kwikset and UniKey have not yet determined the final pricing of the Kevo, but officials expect it to retail for under $250. Preorders for the device will begin in mid-June, and the product is on schedule to ship this summer. Details can be found at the official Kwikset site.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 70
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,950member


    Whole-home automation using Z-wave technology, including Internet control of lights, sensors and door locks, seems far more interesting to me.


     


    wow, what an advertising blitz kwikset has paid for. several mac sites, wired, ...

  • Reply 2 of 70
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,857member
    It's a good first step, but I wouldn't want this on my door just yet. Just too many unknown variables to deal with. It has to be rock-solid reliable. In the end, it just won't be as reliable as some dedicated key.

    Your door won't open? Is your iPhone battery dead? Do you have bluetooth turned on? Did you get a new phone? Where's my lock manual so I can reprogram it to accept a new phone or delete a phone because my other one got stolen?

    We own apartment buildings with smart-locks and as reliable as that is, it still requires some minimal technical knowledge to set these up and administer them. I'm always looking for more modern alternatives and I see a whole world of problems with these. It would be great if these locks can provide a kind of entry logging so that a landlord can monitor who is entering their property and what user entered.

    Good first try though. I'm going to keep my eyes on these guys and see what the first-time users think.
  • Reply 3 of 70
    Looks nice, but I'd really like the option to not have that bumpable cylinder in there, should I so desire.
  • Reply 4 of 70
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member
    want
  • Reply 5 of 70
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post



    ... Your door won't open? Is your iPhone battery dead? Do you have bluetooth turned on? Did you get a new phone? Where's my lock manual so I can reprogram it to accept a new phone or delete a phone because my other one got stolen? ...


     


    There is the physical key bypass though that counters all of those issues.  Also, this seems more for the end-user consumer.  Your requirements as a landlord of many apartments are not the same as the target group.  

  • Reply 6 of 70
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,341member
    It's either gonna be this Unikey, Lockitron or Poly Control for me. Who ever ships a workable solution that is easy to install. Zigbee would be a plus because I eventually want to control my lights (Hue) thermostat (Nest ..eventually) and locks through a common Home Automation tool. Cameras too but I haven't found one I really like.

  • Reply 7 of 70


    The one thing I see as an immediate problem is the need to replace the batteries.


     


    I used to have an electronic key lock on my door, and had to punch in the code to get in.  But when the batteries went dead, I was locked out.  Of course I could have just used my key, but if I have to carry my key around just in case, what's the point?


     


    A solution to this problem would be to incorporate a small solar charging panel, either inside or outside.  If the batteries alone will last a year, trickle charging with a solar panel seems like an obvious answer.  Now, if I can get many years out of it before the batteries give up, that's a better solution.

  • Reply 8 of 70
    nelsonxnelsonx Posts: 278member


    This is where NFC would be great. Oops, the iPhone does not have NFC!

  • Reply 9 of 70
    gordygordy Posts: 1,004member


    Surely it doesn't glow all the time?  Other than that I'm geeking out over it.  Not as cool as Nest, but still cool.

  • Reply 10 of 70
    brunzillabrunzilla Posts: 39member
    I am totally buying this.

    And to the above guys - "changing batteries"... after a year? big deal.
    "NFC"... it's bluetooth. You simply have the phone in your pocket - walk up, touch the lock and it unlocks.
    If you don't have a compatible phone - it comes with a fob for your key chain.


    I WANT!!!
  • Reply 11 of 70
    macinthe408macinthe408 Posts: 1,050member


    Not a single story will inevitably be written about wardriving these locks. 

  • Reply 12 of 70
    kdarlingkdarling Posts: 1,640member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Brian Jojade View Post


    I used to have an electronic key lock on my door, and had to punch in the code to get in.  But when the batteries went dead, I was locked out.  Of course I could have just used my key, but if I have to carry my key around just in case, what's the point?



     


    The point is ease of opening without having to use the key you might be carrying.


     


    I recently installed an electronic lock, and we love it, because my daughter doesn't have to carry a key (so we stopped having to hide a spare nearby, thank goodness).  Plus we can get in more easily even with stuff in our arms.


     


    However, yes, we keep a real key on my and my wife's automobile keychains as a backup.   Of course, we live in the country, so we usually have a car keychain on one of us when we go out.   City dwellers would be a different case.


     


    As for this device, I've always said I'd like to have a cell phone key for the door.  Nowadays, I think it would have to also have a keypad, for max utility for me.


     


    PS. I do like your idea of a photocell backup. 

  • Reply 13 of 70
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,416member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by NelsonX View Post


    This is where NFC would be great. Oops, the iPhone does not have NFC!



     


    What's the difference if it uses Bluetooth, NFC, Wi-Fi Direct, or one of the other multitude of wireless auto-discovery protocols?  As long as it works reliably and doesn't drain the battery, nobody really cares.

  • Reply 14 of 70
    phone-ui-guyphone-ui-guy Posts: 1,019member
    The unlock sounds like it is using your Bluetooth MAC address as the key. If so, no way in hell this would be on my front door.
  • Reply 15 of 70
    geekdadgeekdad Posts: 1,131member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by auxio View Post


     


    What's the difference if it uses Bluetooth, NFC, Wi-Fi Direct, or one of the other multitude of wireless auto-discovery protocols?  As long as it works reliably and doesn't drain the battery, nobody really cares.



    I agree... I want it to work no matter what tech it uses.....


     


    But I wonder what happens if your phone gets stolen? The phone would have all of your conact info including your address. Could it be a security risk I wonder?

  • Reply 16 of 70
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by NelsonX View Post


    This is where NFC would be great. Oops, the iPhone does not have NFC!



     


    Actually Bluetooth 4 is far more secure than NFC from what I've heard. 

  • Reply 17 of 70
    richard getzrichard getz Posts: 1,142member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post



    It's a good first step, but I wouldn't want this on my door just yet. Just too many unknown variables to deal with. It has to be rock-solid reliable. In the end, it just won't be as reliable as some dedicated key.



    Your door won't open? Is your iPhone battery dead? Do you have bluetooth turned on? Did you get a new phone? Where's my lock manual so I can reprogram it to accept a new phone or delete a phone because my other one got stolen?



    We own apartment buildings with smart-locks and as reliable as that is, it still requires some minimal technical knowledge to set these up and administer them. I'm always looking for more modern alternatives and I see a whole world of problems with these. It would be great if these locks can provide a kind of entry logging so that a landlord can monitor who is entering their property and what user entered.



    Good first try though. I'm going to keep my eyes on these guys and see what the first-time users think.


     


     


    If you don't know how to use a smart phone, you probably should not be installing a smart lock! 


     


    Reliable as dedicated keys? Ever hear of lock bumping? 

  • Reply 18 of 70
    richard getzrichard getz Posts: 1,142member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by NelsonX View Post


    This is where NFC would be great. Oops, the iPhone does not have NFC!



     


    There is where bluetooth would be great. Oh, the iPhone does have very energy efficient bluetooth, great! 

  • Reply 19 of 70
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,656member


    Looks pretty cool, and I will investigate. $250 seems a little steep. There are some other alternatives out there for sure, but what attracted me was that this one seems to fit into the existing bolt hole I already have. Nothing on the Kevo site about installation though. Dorking around getting this onto the door is the biggest challenge.


     


    I presume the inside side has a "disable" function. There's some verbiabge about knowing what side of the door you're on with your phone, but I presume they know that people want to be able to simply disable the system with a flick of the hard switch/bolt. Dunno how close the phone has to be to unlock. I presume when you walk away it relocks? Contractors and babysitters are going to forget.

  • Reply 20 of 70
    richard getzrichard getz Posts: 1,142member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Brian Jojade View Post


    The one thing I see as an immediate problem is the need to replace the batteries.


     


    I used to have an electronic key lock on my door, and had to punch in the code to get in.  But when the batteries went dead, I was locked out.  Of course I could have just used my key, but if I have to carry my key around just in case, what's the point?


     


    A solution to this problem would be to incorporate a small solar charging panel, either inside or outside.  If the batteries alone will last a year, trickle charging with a solar panel seems like an obvious answer.  Now, if I can get many years out of it before the batteries give up, that's a better solution.



     


    The point could be not to have to carry keys, but I think it is so you don't have to fumble for them. The app will tell you the charge of the battery so it comes down to not be too lazy to change them. This coming from a guy who only changes his keyboard batters when I can no longer use it :P 

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