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

Door Hinges Guide on Oct 10, 2018
Some of the trickiest access control problems are caused by bad door hinges. From doors not closing right, to locks not locking, worn or warped...
Anti-Tailgating Startup: Spyfloor on Oct 03, 2018
A Canadian startup, Spyfloor, is using a different approach to warn against tailgating, a common access control problem. By counting feet,...
Bosch / SAST / OSSA Aims To Be Industry Standard IP Camera OS and App Store on Sep 28, 2018
Bosch is betting tens of millions of dollars that their spinout SAST will become the defacto standard OS of IP cameras with an industry-wide app...
Favorite Power Supply Manufacturer 2018 on Sep 28, 2018
While power supplies are becoming less important as PoE matures, they remain vital to access control systems, where increased power for locks,...
Access Control Lock Guide on Sep 26, 2018
In this guide, we examine locks; critical elements of any security system and fundamental parts of every access control system. Two fundamental...
ASIS GSX 2018 Show Report on Sep 25, 2018
In the first major US show since the US government ban of Dahua and Hikvision was passed into law, the mega Chinese companies were in retreat and...
Ladders For Installers Guide on Sep 25, 2018
Ladders are one of the most important pieces of worksite equipment for the surveillance technician. Too often, however, even highly experienced...
Door Fundamentals For Access Control Guide on Sep 12, 2018
Assuming every door can be secured with either a maglock or an electric strike can be a painful assumption in the field. While those items can be...
Milestone Co-Founder Invests In Anti Theft Spray SelectaDNA on Sep 06, 2018
Milestone's Co-Founder Henrik Friborg has invested in CSI Protect, exclusive US dealer of forensic marking startup SelectaDNA, a company that...
Directory Of 110+ Video Management Software (VMS) Suppliers on Aug 30, 2018
This directory provides a list of Video Management Software providers to help you see and research what options are available. Listing...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Hanwha Dual Imager Dome Camera Tested (PNM-7000VD) on Oct 18, 2018
Hanwha has introduced their first dual-imager model, the PNM-7000VD, a twin 1080p model featuring independently positionable sensors and a snap-in...
Camera Height / Blind Spot Added to IPVM Camera Calculator on Oct 18, 2018
IPVM has added camera height and blind spot estimation to the Camera Calculator. This is especially helpful for those who need to mount cameras up...
Axis Strong US Growth, Flat EMEA - Q3 2018 Financials on Oct 18, 2018
This spring, Axis had its best financials in many years (see Axis Strong Q2 2018 Results). However, over the summer, Axis had many products sold...
Best Alternatives to Banned Dahua and Hikvision on Oct 17, 2018
With the US government ban and a growing number of users banning Dahua and Hikvision, one key question is what to use for low cost? While Dahua and...
Video Quality / Compression Tutorial on Oct 17, 2018
While CODECs, like H.264, H.265, and MJPEG, get a lot of attention, a camera's 'quality' or compression setting has a big impact on overall...
Knightscope Winning Investors, Struggling With Growth on Oct 16, 2018
While Knightscope's new financials show the company only winning 11 new customers in the past 12 months, the company continues to win new...
Integrator Laptop Guide on Oct 16, 2018
This 18-page guide provides guidance and statistics about integrator laptop use. 150 integrators explained to IPVM in detail about their laptops,...
Huawei Admits AI "Bubble" on Oct 16, 2018
A fascinating article from the Chinese government's Global Times: Huawei’s AI ambition to reshape industries. While the Global Times talks about...
ADI's Financials Revealed + W-Box Growth Priority on Oct 15, 2018
  ADI is one of the most powerful distributors in the security industry but how big are they? How much profit do they make? How much do they sell...
Dahua Face Recognition Camera Tested on Oct 15, 2018
Dahua has been one of the industry's most vocal proponents of the value that AI creates: As part of this, Dahua has released a facial...

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