We knew the day was coming when things like CD towers and landline telephones would be considered obsolete, but never something a ubiquitous and, well, useful as the house key. According to Crain's, however, keys may soon be a thing of the past, too, thanks to new technologies that makes unlocking doors possible from your mobile device.
Two New York startups are the latest to test the waters -- Brooklyn-based Kisi, who is allowing subscribers to use their smartphones to open and close doors that are electronically wired, and KeyMe, who'll let you store digital copies of your keys.
Neither are the first to give keyless entry a try -- in 2011, Business Insider introduced lock makers Schlage and Apigy, who have both developed technologies allowing smartphone users to unlock their homes without a traditional metal key -- but the newcomers are helping to work out some of the pre-existing kinks.
What happens if your phone battery dies or your internet connection fails upon entry, for instance? KeyMe not only lets you use the digital copies you've stored to make (and get delivered) backup keys in a pinch, but their convenience-store kiosks allow users to make on-the-spot duplicate keys, 24 hours a day without the need for the original.
Kisi addresses security worries by keeping all identifying door information off mobile phones and servers, and encrypting all of your data. "Like low-tech keys, users give codes only to those they trust," Crain's explains.
Digital key makers are convinced their technologies will make traditional keys extinct -- if you don't count backup keys. But while their apps will transform the way we come and go, it might be tough to completely phase out physical keys. With real estate valued at what it is these days (especially in places like New York) it's only natural that skeptics exist.
Are you one of them?
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