Smartphone the key

Keyless entry is an emerging market in the automotive and commercial building industries, and now for the residential market Kwikset introduces a door lock that uses a smartphone for keyless entry into any home. The Kevo was created through a partnership between Kwikset and UniKey Technologies, Inc. “Consumers continue to see more and more lifestyle benefits for using their smartphones for all different areas of their lives, and we just think it’s a natural fit to move their mechanical key to a smart phone in their interaction with their homes,” says Keith Brandon, director of Residential Access Solutions, Kwikset.

The Kevo smart lock package includes one deadbolt, one key fob, two mechanical keys and two smartphone eKeys, which are available for download. “We’ve leveraged more of a traditional, round deadbolt, and incorporated a spinning blue ring into the exterior of the lock so you get that little bit of a cool factor to recognize that the lock is actually engaging with you,” Brandon says. The lock operates on four AA batteries, and the LED light in the lock turns red in the exterior and interior to indicate a low battery level. Notifications are also sent through the Kevo app, but if the battery completely dies then a mechanical lock would be required for access. If homeowners don’t have their smartphone on them, then a mechanical key or the key fob can be used for locking or unlocking the home.

The Kevo app is only available on smartphones that support Bluetooth 4.0, which are the iPhone 4S and 5 as well as the fifth-generation iPod touch, third-generation or higher iPad and iPad mini. Once the Kevo app is downloaded from the Apple Store, it requires an account and password, which is one level of security. Brandon says that back-end servers utilize the phone and Bluetooth within to pair the user’s identity with the lock itself. Timers and sensors in the app and the key fob prevent consumers from accidentally activating the lock when inside or outside the home and unwittingly unlocking the door. UniKey’s intelligent positioning technology within the lock also distinguishes between a user being inside and outside the home and whether the device is active and in use or asleep and not sending a signal to the lock.

Another security feature of the Kevo app is that owner and administrator eKeys have the authorization to send, disable and delete eKeys, which provides a more secure means of sharing access to a home. In the case of a lost, stolen or compromised smartphone, the homeowner can log in through a Web portal and disable the eKey capabilities on that smartphone. The other piece, according to Brandon, is that “there’s a calibration function within the lock that says to place the device where you would usually carry it, and it goes through a sequence of determining that if I put the smartphone in my pocket it will cabilbrate to use from my pocket.” The key fob also offers the same calibration function.

The Kevo will begin officially shipping by the end of October, but the company is already looking ahead for the product. Brandon says that the pressure is now on Android products to update to Bluetooth 4.0, which would further open up the marketplace for Kevo. He hopes that the technology will catch up across all smartphones within months. Once the technology is available to consumers, then the company will “continue to refine style, finish and really just aesthetics overall of the design elements,” remarks Brandon.