Lockitron Admits Failure

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Jan 29, 2015

They were Silicon Valley's chosen one.

The company who was going to disrupt access control, backed by the biggest incubator and cheered on by the tech press.

However, as IPVM test results showed, the product had massive problems.

And now, Lockitron is admitting failure.

In this note, we examine what went wrong, what they are doing now and how this impacts the smart lock market.

Lockitron's Ambition

Lockitron aimed to put the old and dusty door lock market on notice by introducing a networked access controller to residential and small business customers. Their first Lockitron offering was a massive crowd funding success story, where the company turned nothing but an idea in over two million dollars worth of presales in just a few months.

Core features of the crowd funded Lockitron included complete smartphone management, where a user could be hundreds of miles away yet still lock or unlock an opening. Even better, temporary access could be shared with other users.  Visitors did not need keys, just mobile permissions to enter granted by the app.

Moreover, Lockitron claimed that it could be installed by anyone, it worked with any door lock, and users would be up and running in minutes. The $179 price, while high, still hit the sweet spot with the DIYers and the product sold more than ten thousand units in mere weeks.  Indeed, the product won huge accolades and hype as an example of how Silicon Valley ideas and Crowdfunding support could revolutionize established markets like door hardware.

The Failure

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

However, Lockitron could not solve several problems that caused early reviews to pan the offering.  Even after several delays and rework batches, the product never overcame the following problems:

  • Installation: Even though Lockitron claimed universal compatibility and easy install in minutes, the company learned that many users needed an hour or more to install the unit and adjust the door lock.  Some users simply found their lock and door would just not fit the device at all.
  • Battery Life: Instead of the claimed 6-month lifecycle from the internal power pack, many users found batteries lasted 2 or 3 weeks.  Even when used within normal parameters, the unit drained juice rapidly.  
  • Responsiveness: Missteps and miscalculations surrounding WiFi connectivity and the delayed 'Sense' feature were continual trouble issues, with many users finding the lock offline when needed and taking more than a minute to wake up before unlocking a door.
  • Manufacturing: Perhaps the biggest problems came in sourcing components and production for the device. While engineering and design was based in the US, the company found considerable problems trying to find reliable suppliers overseas.

The Pivot

Now, Lockitron is "moving all our efforts to manufacturing Lockitron Bolt", a new separate product replacing the initial offering.  The new unit is an entire replacement lock rather than a retrofit device. The new design strips out some of the problem features, and overall is a smaller unit:

With a reduced price of $99, the new Bolt promises the same basic features of the original with the following changes:

  • 'Knock' is Gone: The sensor detecting when a user taps on the door to awaken the lock is gone. The company explained "We found that certain doors would trigger the knock sensor too easily, keeping the Lockitron awake and draining batteries" too quickly. Rather than trying to re-engineer the sensor, Bolt simply drops it.
  • External WiFi: Another battery suck and big performance issue was the onboard WiFi chip.  With Bolt, Lockitron reworks connectivity to use a separate wall powered hub called a Bridge that is connected to the Lock via BLE. The company claims this change offers "instantly responsive WiFi".
  • New Keyed Locks: The replacement lock approach means the internal lock cylinder will need to be repinned to match existing door locks and keys.  The company claims it will eventually offer a service that does this, but in the meantime "your local hardware store can match your existing key for $5-15..."

The company did not ship all the initial orders for the initial Lockitron, and instead is asking early backers to migrate their orders to Bolt that is planned to start shipping in a few months.

The Future of Smart Locks

The failure of Lockitron to produce a successful product should be a sobering example of the difficult realities of design, manufacturing, and bringing ideas to market in access control (and beyond)!  Among the key lessons learned:

Doors are Complex: Despite being simple to work and common, the actual mechanical aspects of a door and lock are complex.  Not only is there a wide variety of hardware in use, but the ease of operation and condition of that hardware can quickly complicate a simple idea. Underestimating typical binding, bending, and wind buffeting on doors contributed greatly to the doom of Lockitron.

Good Ideas Are Not Enough:  Even when a 'game changing' concept hits the market and is met with millions of dollars in support, a glut of hard work and potential showstoppers still remain before commercial viability. Lockitron has learned this the hard way, and has expended most of the good will and enthusiasm the product won early on.  Only time will show if Bolt helps the company deliver.

Will other smart locks fall victim to the same problems?  There is good chance.  Many of the competing offerings like August, Goji, and Kevo have experienced similar delays, although none appear as drastic and dramatic as Lockitron.  Overall, users of smart locks should temper their excitement with a heavy amount of skepticism until the segment matures.

 

4 reports cite this report:

Smartphone Controlled Kevo Lock Tested on May 04, 2017
Smartlocks are a growing market, with millions sold. Kwikset's Kevo is one of the most common choices, using the Unikey smart phone access control...
Ring Pro Tested on May 26, 2016
This year, Ring received $61.2 million more of VC funding. For a video doorbell. The video doorbell market is evidently hot but how good are...
The Brooklyn Access Startup: Kisi on Apr 12, 2016
Straight from the hipster startup hotbed of Brooklyn comes a new IP access control system.  And if the tough streets of NYC do not offer enough...
Vacation Rental Access Control: The 'ResortLock' on Feb 20, 2015
Controlling access to your vacation home or rental property is the vision of ResortLock. Through an internet based management portal, users can...
Comments (11): PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Smartcard Copier Tested (13.56MHz) on Jul 05, 2017
Copying 125kHz cards is certainly easy, as our test results showed, but how about 13.56MHz smart cards? Are they more secure? IPVM focused on the...
Startup Replacing Passwords With Patterns (Shayype) on Jun 28, 2017
This startup, Shayype, aims to eliminate passwords, replacing them with patterns. Problems with passwords are clear, as simple passwords, re-used...
Milestone / Canon Launch Cloud Startup Arcus Global on Jun 27, 2017
Milestone has spun off a business, Arcus Global, funded by their parent company Canon. The new company aims to transform the VSaaS market with an...
Biometrics Pros and Cons For Electronic Access Control on Jun 26, 2017
Biometrics has been long sought as an alternative to the security risks of cards, pins and passwords. While biometrics has improved somewhat over...
Deep Learning Surveillance Startups Deep Problem on Jun 23, 2017
The undeniably good news for the video surveillance market is that we are seeing the rise of more startups than in many years. The cause of this...
Access Control Course Winter 2018 on Jun 11, 2017
The Winter 2018 IPVM Access Control Course is now open; save $50 on early registration. IPVM offers the most comprehensive access control course...
RMR Integrator Importance Statistics on Jun 08, 2017
How do integrators feel about offering RMR / recurring revenue services? For many, their business revolves around RMR, while others see no...
HID Edge EVO Tested on Jun 07, 2017
HID Edge controllers have been one of most common offerings in IP door controllers for years. The new generation is called Edge EVO. We tested...
Jeff Bezos-Funded Deep Sentinel Security Startup on Jun 05, 2017
Deep Learning is a rising trend in many commercial security products, and now one entrepreneur wants to bring deep learning to residential...
Access Control AHJ Nightmares on Jun 01, 2017
For access control jobs, a single person can be the difference between finishing a job, costing thousands in extra dollars, and being profitable...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Security Robots Are Just Entertainment on Jul 21, 2017
Great entertainment, no real security value.  That is the happy (or sad) state of security robots in 2017. Knightscope robot's drowning, the...
Wireless Burglar Alarm Sensors Guide on Jul 21, 2017
Wireless sensors for burglar alarm sensors are an increasingly common option for the historical labor intensive wired alarm systems. However,...
Competing Against ADT on Jul 20, 2017
ADT is one of the biggest players in the security industry, with ~$4 billion revenue. In 2017, they were acquired / merged with Protection...
Hikvision Launching Deep Learning Recorders on Jul 20, 2017
Hikvision has become a common choice for super low cost NVRs. Now, Hikvision is aiming to move up market, with deep learning NVRs that claim far...
PR Campaign Exploiting Manufacturer Cybersecurity on Jul 20, 2017
Manufacturers increasingly have a bulls-eye on their back. As cyber security solutions providers grow, they realize a great way to get publicity...
Axis Door Station Tested (A8105-E) on Jul 19, 2017
Axis continues their push into niche markets, especially audio, with network speakers, an IP horn, and video door stations. We bought and tested...
Manufacturer Favorability Guide on Jul 19, 2017
This 120 page PDF guide may be downloaded inside by all IPVM members. It includes our 20 manufacturer favorability rankings and 20 manufacturer...
$8 Billion Utility Georgia Power Enters Surveillance Business Offering Avigilon And Genetec on Jul 19, 2017
Utilities are typically considered major customers of surveillance integrators but one utility, Georgia Power, with $8+ billion in annual revenue...
Knightscope Laughs off Robot Drowning on Jul 18, 2017
A day after a Knightscope robot drowned, Knightscope has issued an 'official statement' making fun of the issue: The implied message is that...
Microsoft Video AI Cloud Services Examined on Jul 18, 2017
Microsoft has released one of the most amazing video analytics marketing videos ever. In it, they detect oil spills, track individual people giving...

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