Shark Tank Security Startup (UniKey)

Author: 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

************ ********* **** **** ** ****** ***, **** *** ******* founder ******** ** *** ** **** '***** ****', * ****** **** ******* *********** ******* ******* ******* **** a **** ** *********, ***** *********. *** *******: ** ** individual '*****' *** ****, ** ******** ****** ******* ******* *** a ***** ** *********** ********. ***** ****** ************ **** *** concept *** ******* ********* ******* *******,* ****** ********* ***** *** ******.

*******,*** ******** **** ******* ****** ******* ******* ******* **** '** **' *** *** *** ****. **** *** ********** *******, ****** landed ** ********* *************** ******** ***** *******, *** ** ************* *** ************ *** ****** ******* ** part ** *** '********' *********.

Product ********

**** ** * ************ **** ***** ** ********** *** ** ******* *** *****, instead ***** ** ****** *** ***** ********. *** ***** ***** below ***** *** *******:

****** ***** '***** *****' ****** *****, **** ** *** ********* via **** ***-****. *** ******** ** ********** *******, ******* ******* ** *** close ********* *********** *.* (***)** ************ *****. **** *********** ***** *** ******** * ******* range ** *** ****, ******* ******** ******* **** *** **** itself ** ******** ** ******* ** ***** *** ****.

*** *** ** ******** ** ** ******, ******** ** ************** token. ******* ** ***'* ************* *** * *** *********, ** can ****** ******* ******** ** **** ******* *****, *** *** company ****** '*** ** *** **** **** ** **** **** phone *** ** **** *****' ** **** ** ****:

**** *******

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

  • **** *********: *** **** ****** ** ****** ***** **** ** the **** *** *** ********, ** * **** **** *** inadvertently '******' * **** *** ******* ******** *******.
  • ****** ****: ******* ** **** *** ******* ********* *.* (***), so *********** ** *** ** *** *******.
  • ******* *******: *** **** ** ******* ** * **** ** 4 ** ***** *********, ***** *** ******* ****** ******** ***** a **** ** ***.
  • **********/******: **** *** *** ** *** ******, * ****** **** can ****** **** ** ***** ****** *****, *** * ******** when **** *** *****, *** ******* ************* (** *** ** phone *****) **** *** **** ** ******.
  • ****** *******: *** ***** ******* ** ******, **** ****** * standalone ******* *** *** * *** ** ********** **** ****
  • ****: ******* ** ******* **** *** ~$*** *** **** ** 'big ***' **** *********** *********, ******* *** ******* ** ********* for *** **** ***** **** ****** *********. ********** *** **** cost ~$** *** ********** ****** **** **** same '*** ***' *********.

****

*** **** ** ********* **** ****** ** *** ***** *** substantial, *********:

  • ******* ***********: ** ****** * *******, ** **** *** ** *** ** *** technical **********. ****** ** **** ** ******* ******* *** *** manufacturing *** ************ ********* ** **** ***** *********** ********* **** trouble. ** ***** ** ******* *******, ********* *******, *** ***** recognition, **** **** *** **** ** ******** ****** ******** ** its ******** - ** ****** *** ******** **** ******* ******* has ** *****.
  • *** **********: ******* '*****' ******* *** ****'* ***, **** ****** definable **** ****** ***** *** ******.
  • ******: **** **** *** **** *******, * *****'* *** ** used ** * '*****' ** ****** **** ****** ** ******* through *** ****, *** ** ****.
  • ********: ******* ***** ** ******** *** ********, *** **** *** be ********* *** **** ** ***** *** ********'* ***** *****, ** existing **** *** '***-****' ***** *** ** **** ** *** Kevo ****.

****

*******, ******* ***** **********, **** *** **** ************:

  • **** **** *** & '******** ********' **: ** ***** ** work, ******* **** **** **** ** ***** ******* ****** **, and **** *** ********* ******* ****, *********** ******** ***** ** time **** * ****** ******* *******.
  • ** ****** *************:****** ******* '***** *****', ***** ** ** *** ** ******** **** ** ****** the ****. *** **** **** ********** ** ****** ***** *** touch *** **** ** ******* ****** ****.
  • *** *******: ***** *** ******** ******* *** ****, **** ********* end ***** ***** ** ****** ***-***** ** ******* ** ******* their *** ****, *** ** *** **** ****** ** *** of ********* ** ******, ** *** ******* ****** ****** '***' to *******.

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

********, *** **** ** ** ** ******* **** **** *****, and ***** *** * ****** ** ********* ******* ** ******* stages ** ***********:

  • *********: ***** *** ****** ** ******** ********** *** **** ********* than **** ** $***, *** ******* *** ****** ******* *********** and ********** **********,*** ** *** *** ********. ***** **** ****** ** **** start ******** ***-****** **** *****, ********* ******** ****** ***** **** back ** **** ****/***** ****** ** ****.
  • ****: ***********, '****' ** *** ******* **** ** **** ********, with ** ********** ****** *** **** *** ******* **** ** the ****, *** ** **** ***** *** ****, **** ***-****** costing $***, *** ****-******* ****** ****** ******. **** **** ****** the **** '*******' ***** ****** ** ****, *** ** ****** and **** **** ******* ********* **** *** *************. *******, **** many ** ***** *** ********, *** ******** **** *** **** pushed **** ******* *****. *** **** ****** ********* **** **** for **** ** ********* ********* ****
  • **** *-**** ********: ******, *** ** *** **** '***** *****' ******** ******** at ******* ** ****'* ~$*** *-**** ********. ****** *** ***** 'smart ****' ********, * *-**** ****** ******** ********** ********** ********* and ********, ******* * *** ** ******** ***** *****. ***** other ******** ***** ****** ************* **** * **** *** ** web ******, ****** ** ****'* ******** ** ********* ******* * 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

IFSEC 2018 Final Show Report on Jun 20, 2018
IPVM attended the IFSEC show for the first time this year. The Chinese took over the show, centered on Hikvision, flanked by Dahua, Huawei and a...
Cybersecurity Startup VDOO Disclosing 10 Manufacturer Vulnerabilities Starting With Axis And Foscam on Jun 20, 2018
Cybersecurity startup VDOO has uncovered significant vulnerabilities in Axis cameras along with many others not yet disclosed. In this report, we...
Axis Releases First New Access Controller In 5 Years (A1601) on Jun 15, 2018
It has been 5 years since Axis 2013 entry in the physical access control market, with the A1001 (IPVM test). Now, Axis has released its second...
China Public Video Surveillance Guide: From Skynet to Sharp Eyes on Jun 14, 2018
China is expanding its video surveillance network to achieve “100%” nationwide coverage by 2020, including facial recognition capabilities and a...
Access Control - Time & Attendance, Mustering and Mantraps Guide on Jun 13, 2018
Electronic access offers features that traditional mechanical locks cannot. While these features may not be as fundamental as keeping doors secure,...
The Benefits of An Access Control Test Door on Jun 08, 2018
Security system dealers can benefit from having their own access control test door both for demonstrations and training. Inside, we explain the...
Ambitious Mobile Access Startup: Openpath on May 24, 2018
This team sold their last startup for hundreds of millions of dollars, now they have started Openpath to become a rare access control small...
Cybersecurity for IP Video Surveillance Guide on May 18, 2018
Keeping surveillance networks secure can be a daunting task, but there are several methods that can greatly reduce risk, especially when used in...
Forced Entry / Duress Access Tutorial on May 17, 2018
Even though access control normally keeps people safe, tragedies have revealed a significant issue. If users are forced to unlock doors for...
N3N "Truly Open Visualization Platform For Physical Security" Profile on May 09, 2018
A Cisco-backed startup, N3N, claims to deliver "the world’s first and only truly open visualization platform for physical security." The company...

Most Recent Industry Reports

July 2018 IP Networking Course on Jun 22, 2018
  This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance professionals. Register now. Lots of network training exists...
Installation Hardware for Video Surveillance - Indoor Fasteners on Jun 22, 2018
As part of our Installation for Video Surveillance series, in this note, we cover drywall anchors. A key part of installing security hardware is...
Hikvision ColorVu Integrated Visible Light Cameras Examined on Jun 22, 2018
When it comes to low light, infrared light has become the defacto standard in surveillance. But IR is limited to monochrome images, making colors...
'Secure Channel' OSDP Access Control Examined on Jun 21, 2018
Despite claiming to be better than Wiegand, OSDP's initial releases did not address the lack of encryption between reader and controller, leaving...
Most Wanted Improvements In Manufacturer Technical Support (Statistics) on Jun 21, 2018
5 key areas of improvement and 1 clear wanted support feature were voiced by 140+ integrator responses to: What improvement in manufacturer...
GDPR / ICO Complaint Filed Against IFSEC Show Facial Recognition on Jun 20, 2018
IPVM has filed a complaint against IFSEC’s parent company UBM based on our concern that the conference violates core GDPR principles on...
IFSEC 2018 Final Show Report on Jun 20, 2018
IPVM attended the IFSEC show for the first time this year. The Chinese took over the show, centered on Hikvision, flanked by Dahua, Huawei and a...
Mobotix Releases 'Move' Into 21st Century on Jun 20, 2018
For years, Mobotix stood resolutely against, well, every other manufacturer, selling it as a virtue: MOBOTIX equipment is designed with no...
Cybersecurity Startup VDOO Disclosing 10 Manufacturer Vulnerabilities Starting With Axis And Foscam on Jun 20, 2018
Cybersecurity startup VDOO has uncovered significant vulnerabilities in Axis cameras along with many others not yet disclosed. In this report, we...
Axis Guardian - Cloud VMS And Alarm Monitoring - Released on Jun 19, 2018
Axis has struggled to deliver a cloud-based managed service video platform. Video service providers have utilized AVHS for over a decade, and have...

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