Shark Tank Security Startup (UniKey)

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on Aug 30, 2013

A startup featured on the US Shark Tank TV show, UniKey, is trying to disrupt residential access control. Now, they are partnering with one of the biggest incumbents in the space "Kevo" to bring it to market. Is the product ready to dominate the market, leaving competitor startups behind in the dust? We examine the details, pro and cons compared to traditional locks as well as smart locks such as Lockitron, Goji and the Yale Z-Wave Deadbolt.

Backstory

************ ********* **** **** 18 ****** ***, **** the ******* ******* ******** on *** ** **** '***** ****', * ****** **** matches *********** ******* ******* capital **** * **** of *********, ***** *********. The *******: ** ** individual '*****' *** ****, an ******** ****** ******* funding *** * ***** of *********** ********. ***** UniKey ************ **** *** concept *** ******* ********* pledged *******,* ****** ********* ***** was ******.

*******,*** ******** **** ******* ****** ******* ******* capital **** '** **' *** *** *** show. **** *** ********** funding, ****** ****** ** agreement *************** ******** ***** *******, *** ** ************* and ************ *** ****** concept ** **** ** its '********' *********.

Product ********

**** ** * ************ **** ***** ** mechanical *** ** ******* the *****, ******* ***** an ****** *** ***** feedback. *** ***** ***** below ***** *** *******:

****** ***** '***** *****' access *****, **** ** not ********* *** **** or*-****. *** ******** ** completely *******, ******* ******* on *** ***** ********* of********* *.* (***)** ************ *****. **** essentially ***** *** ******** a ******* ***** ** 150 ****, ******* ******** contact **** *** **** itself ** ******** ** retract ** ***** *** bolt.

*** *** ** ******** by ** ******, ******** an ************** *****. ******* of ***'* ************* *** 2 *** *********, ** can ****** ******* ******** or **** ******* *****, and *** ******* ****** 'you ** *** **** need ** **** **** phone *** ** **** pants' ** **** ** work:

**** *******

*** ******* *******:

  • **** *********: *** **** claims ** ****** ***** side ** *** **** you *** ********, ** a **** **** *** inadvertently '******' * **** for ******* ******** *******.
  • ****** ****: ******* ** does *** ******* ********* 4.0 (***), ** *********** in *** ** *** roadmap.
  • ******* *******: *** **** is ******* ** * pack ** * ** sized *********, ***** *** company ****** ******** ***** a **** ** ***.
  • **********/******: **** *** *** or *** ******, * master **** *** ****** keys ** ***** ****** users, *** * ******** when **** *** *****, and ******* ************* (** way ** ***** *****) when *** **** ** opened.
  • ****** *******: *** ***** lacking ** ******, **** offers * ********** ******* fob *** * *** of ********** **** ****
  • ****: ******* ** ******* Kevo *** ~$*** *** lock ** '*** ***' home *********** *********, ******* the ******* ** ********* for *** **** ***** from ****** *********. ********** BLE **** **** ~$** and ********** ****** **** cost same '*** ***' *********.

****

*** **** ** ********* Kevo ****** ** *** table *** ***********, *********:

  • ******* ***********: ** ****** * *******, ** will *** ** *** to *** ********* **********. Rather ** **** ** because ******* *** *** manufacturing *** ************ ********* to **** ***** *********** offerings **** *******. ** terms ** ******* *******, technical *******, *** ***** recognition, **** **** *** need ** ******** ****** portions ** *** ******** - ** ****** *** leverage **** ******* ******* has ** *****.
  • *** **********: ******* '*****' happens *** ****'* ***, with ****** ********* **** during ***** *** ******.
  • ******: **** **** *** lock *******, * *****'* app ** **** ** a '*****' ** ****** when ****** ** ******* through *** ****, *** by ****.
  • ********: ******* ***** ** entirely *** ********, *** Kevo *** ** ********* *** **** ** match *** ********'* ***** locks, ** ******** **** for '***-****' ***** *** be **** ** *** Kevo ****.

****

*******, ******* ***** **********, Kevo *** **** ************:

  • **** **** *** & 'Location ********' **: ** order ** ****, ******* must **** **** ** these ******* ****** **, and **** *** ********* battery ****, *********** ******** hours ** **** **** a ****** ******* *******.
  • ** ****** *************:****** ******* 'smart *****', ***** ** ** way ** ******** **** or ****** *** ****. The **** **** ********** be ****** ***** *** touch *** **** ** perform ****** ****.
  • *** *******: ***** *** terribly ******* *** ****, some ********* *** ***** could ** ****** ***-***** by ******* ** ******* their *** ****, *** if *** **** ****** is *** ** ********* or ******, ** *** require ****** ****** '***' to *******.

Comparing ***** **** *****

********, *** **** ** on ** ******* **** door *****, *** ***** are * ****** ** competing ******* ** ******* stages ** ***********:

  • *********: ***** *** ****** is ******** ********** *** less ********* **** **** at $***, *** ******* has ****** ******* *********** and ********** **********,*** ** *** *** shipping. ***** **** ****** it **** ***** ******** pre-orders **** *****, ********* recently ****** ***** **** back ** **** ****/***** winter ** ****.
  • ****: ***********, '****' ** the ******* **** ** this ********, **** ** integrated ****** *** **** LED ******* **** ** the ****, *** ** also ***** *** ****, with ***-****** ******* $***, and ****-******* ****** ****** higher. **** **** ****** the **** '*******' ***** method ** ****, *** is ****** *** **** send ******* ********* **** log *************. *******, **** many ** ***** *** products, *** ******** **** has **** ****** **** several *****. *** **** recent ********* **** **** for **** ** ********* at******* ****
  • **** *-**** ********: ******, *** ** the **** '***** *****' actually ******** ** ******* is ****'* ~$*** *-**** offering. ****** *** ***** 'smart ****' ********, * Z-Wave ****** ******** ********** networking ********* *** ********, usually * *** ** enhanced ***** *****. ***** other ******** ***** ****** accessibility **** * **** app ** *** ******, access ** ****'* ******** is ********* ******* * subscription ***** ******* ********* ******* *.*

Comments (12)

While our access control needs are modest, we've been successfully using Schlage Z-Wave with the Mi Casa Vera hub. We chose Schlage over Kwikset Z-Wave door lock because it has 10 code buttons vice 5, supporting a greater codespace. We were unfamiliar with Yale Z-Wave offerings at the time of our selection. The cost among Schlage, Kwikset, and Yale Z-Wave offerings appear comparable.

Only one critical issue has arisen. Although exterior rated, the older Schlage Z-Wave locking door handle appears to allow modest airflow from outside to inside. While not directly noticeable, during the summer we've observed substantial condensation within the shell on the interior air-conditioned side of the door. The only noticeable effect (so far) has been to very substantially shorten battery life.

That's interesting feedback! Is Schlage aware of this issue?

I don't know. It's been a while since they discontinued that FE599 product in favor of the FE599NX. I think I installed the newer FE599NX on an interior door, so haven't any sense of the newer product susceptibility to internal condensation from outdoor-to-indoor airflow.

If you're already thinking "Maybe he should switch the two devices to possibly avoid future problems," I know that would be smart, but I have a lot higher priorities right this second ... :)

Since I regularly return home with a dead battery phone in my pocket, I question the viability of this product. I can just see it now...

Cold and stormy late night taxi home from the airport after a long flight. Family all asleep upstairs. And me sitting in huddled in the rain at the wall outlet on the side of the house waiting to build a charge sufficient for to unplug the phone and go use it at the front door to get in.

This is an interesting point, and one that none of these 'phone based key' systems has solved.

Kwikset deflects the problem by instructing users to carry 'backup' mechanical keys at all times for just an event. Translation: throw a key under the welcome mat.

Even NFC, which is being pushed heavily for commercial use, suffers from the same weakness. One difference between NFC and BLE (that Kevo uses) is that NFC can be passively powered by a hard wired reader, so even if the phone was dead, the chip could still be read by the system.

However, the wheels come off during implementation. For example, HID's workflows on using the NFC chip for access require the phone hit a cloud server first to provision the onboard chip. Result: no power, no access.

Story Moral: Your unsexy mechanical keyed locks aren't going away just yet.

To be fair, even in commercial access control, mechanical keyed locks haven't gone away ever. EAC power and battery backups fail jut like phone batteries. So I'm okay with carrying a key. I just don't want to always have to use it.

Mophie Juice Pack

Who can afford dead batteries?

So what happens if one of the teenage kids leaves his/her enabled iPhones in their car in the driveway (within 150' proximity)..would an intruder merely need to touch the lock housing to gain access? The "side detection" would be irrelevant because the iPhone would be on the invasive "side".

That's a good question, and one where a test would be beneficial. The published range of BLE is ~150ft, but the lock itself may have a less sensitive antenna, resulting in a closer activation range.

Our 'media' contact at Kwikset did not know the range, as they've only been coached on the 'two step' process. A test would be enlightening on questions like this!

This is on the front page of Amazon right now, btw.

It's going to be the Dropcam of Internet locks! But seriously, home page promotion on Amazon is pretty amazing exposure.

Ethan, John!!

It is likely personallized on YOUR Amazon home page, as the major banner-ad guys have tokenized you as someone who is interested in security. For example, if I go to a sporting goods site to buy triathalon gear for my wife, I see ads for Avigilon. Same if I go to order aquarium supplies. That is no accident.

I wonder how likely it is that the Kevo ad would appear for my wife when she goes to Amazon. If I look on her laptop, it's all wetsuits and bicycle stuff.

Jon

Login to read this IPVM report.
Why do I need to log in?
IPVM conducts unique testing and research funded by member's payments enabling us to offer the most independent, accurate and in-depth information.

Related Reports

Directory of 55 Video Surveillance Startups on Jun 25, 2019
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see and research what companies are new or not yet broadly known. 2019...
Startup Vaion Launching End-to-End AI Solution Backed with $20 Million Funding on Jun 17, 2019
An EU / USA video surveillance startup, Vaion, founded by ex-Cisco Senior Directors is launching an end-to-end VSaaS platform with $20 million in...
Carnegie Mellon AI Startup Zensors Profile on Jun 11, 2019
Zensors is a startup formed by Carnegie Mellon graduates from a Carnegie Mellon research project, offering customized models per camera that they...
Directory of 30+ VSaaS / Cloud Video Surveillance Providers on Jun 07, 2019
This directory provides a list of VSaaS / cloud video surveillance providers to help you see and research what options are available. 2019 State...
Startup Rhombus Systems Says Twice the Features, Half the Price of Verkada on Jun 04, 2019
Closed cloud systems may be the fastest growing segment of video surveillance with Meraki and Verkada. Now another California company is joining...
OWAL Startup Profile - Ex-Googler Cloud AI Video Platform on May 29, 2019
OWAL, a NYC-based startup developing AI video analytics, is aiming to "improve the quality of life" within high-rise apartments, and commercial...
Access Control Job Walk Guide on May 22, 2019
Significant money can be saved and problems avoided with an access control job walk if you know what to look for and what to ask. By inviting...
Maglock Selection Guide on May 16, 2019
One of the most misunderstood yet valuable pieces of electrified hardware is the maglock. Few locks are stronger, but myths and confusion surround...
Access Control Request to Exit (RTE) Tutorial on May 13, 2019
For access controlled doors, especially those with maglocks, 'Request to Exit', or 'RTE' devices are required to override electrified locks to...
11 Facial Recognition Providers Review (Secutech) on May 09, 2019
Adding to our 19 Facial Recognition Providers Profiled report from ISC West, IPVM focused on facial recognition technology for our Day 2 coverage...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Security Dealer 'Social Media Contractor' Program on Jun 25, 2019
A $20,000 video surveillance system can be yours for free if you are willing to post on social media about the security dealer. Good deal, bad...
Axis Live Privacy Shield Analytics Tested on Jun 25, 2019
Privacy is becoming a bigger factor in video surveillance, driven both by increased public awareness and by GDPR. Now, Axis has released Live...
Directory of 55 Video Surveillance Startups on Jun 25, 2019
This directory provides a list of video surveillance startups to help you see and research what companies are new or not yet broadly known. 2019...
Hikvision ColorVu Camera Tested on Jun 24, 2019
Hikvision says their new ColorVu line captures "vivid chromatic images in darkness", with unconventional white light illuminations whereas most...
China Subway Facial Recognition System Examined on Jun 24, 2019
A China city of 6+ million people has installed facial recognition-enabled gates in subways, allowing commuters to enter stations by simply showing...
HID Mobile Tested on Jun 21, 2019
HID Global is one of the largest access brands, but their mobile access has had challenges. Indeed, the company has already restructured their...
Genetec Beats Milestone For IHS #1 on Jun 21, 2019
For years, Milestone has touted that they are the #1 VMS. Now, Genetec has beaten them in IHS rankings. But what is this? Even other manufacturers...
Risk of Amazon Alexa Guard: No Battery Or Cell Backup on Jun 20, 2019
Amazon positions its Alexa Guard Service as a "smart home security system" and says it can help you "keep your home safe". However, the...
Exacq Remote Cloud Access Tested on Jun 20, 2019
Remote cloud access has been missing from most VMSes (including Exacq and Milestone). Now, Exacq, after releasing Cloud Drive Storage earlier in...
Briefcam Buys Frost Award* on Jun 20, 2019
Frost 'awards' are well-known and widely disrespected. Now Briefcam is touting their win. The way it has worked for many years is that Frost...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact