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.

 

6 reports cite this report:

Assa August Smartlock Pro Tested on Nov 07, 2017
Failures and set backs in the smartlock business have been commonplace (e.g., Lockitron Admits Failure and issues from our 2017 Kevo test). But...
Assa Abloy Acquires August on Oct 25, 2017
The mega access control manufacturer, Assa Abbloy, has acquired one of the most well funded access control startups, smart lock...
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

Testing $20 WyzeCam, The Money Losing Amazon Vet Startup on Dec 12, 2017
This startup is perfecting the old adage: We lose money on every sale, but make it up on volume But it is no joke. The company, Wyze Labs, is...
Access Controller Software Guide on Dec 11, 2017
Properly configuring access controllers software is key to a professional access system. These devices have fundamental settings that must be...
Access Control Course Winter 2018 on Dec 07, 2017
Learn more below about the Winter 2018 IPVM Access Control Course. Register here. IPVM offers the most comprehensive access control course in...
ZKAccess Control Tested on Dec 04, 2017
China manufacturer ZKTeco / ZKAcces has been expanding in the West, offering a low-cost access control platform. But how good is it? And how does...
Hazardous & Explosion Proof Access Control Tutorial on Nov 27, 2017
Controlling access to hazardous environments require equipment meeting specific ratings that certify they will not start fires. Understanding those...
Top Maglock Provider Warns Against Using Maglocks on Nov 21, 2017
Do not buy my company's product. It sounds strange indeed, but a senior Allegion consultant stated that maglocks should not be used in common...
Isonas Cofounders Split, Launch Partner/Competitor on Nov 16, 2017
Breaking up is hard to do, especially when door access security is at stake. But that is exactly what has happened at Isonas. Senior employees...
Mobile Credentials (BLE / NFC / Apps) Guide on Nov 14, 2017
One of the biggest trends in access for the last few years has been the marriage of mobile phones and access cards. In this guide,...
Long Range Access Control Readers Tutorial on Nov 10, 2017
One of the classic challenges for access control are parking lots and garages, where the user's credential is far from the reader. With modern...
Selecting Access Control Readers Tutorial on Nov 09, 2017
Given the variety of types available, specifying access control readers can be a daunting process. However, focusing on a few key elements will...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Hiring Camera Calculator Product Manager on Dec 12, 2017
We are working on making the Camera Calculator even better and hoping you can help us find the right person to join our team. IPVM is hiring a...
Testing $20 WyzeCam, The Money Losing Amazon Vet Startup on Dec 12, 2017
This startup is perfecting the old adage: We lose money on every sale, but make it up on volume But it is no joke. The company, Wyze Labs, is...
Xiongmai New Critical Vulnerability - Same Manufacturer Whose Products Drove Mirai Botnet Attacks on Dec 12, 2017
The Chinese manufacturer whose products were primarily responsible for the 2016 Mirai botnet attack has a new critical vulnerability, confirmed by...
Robot Vandalism on Dec 11, 2017
Vandalism of security systems is a common concern. It is so common that camera vandalism statistics show that designers routinely sacrifice camera...
Access Controller Software Guide on Dec 11, 2017
Properly configuring access controllers software is key to a professional access system. These devices have fundamental settings that must be...
2018 Video Surveillance Cameras Overview on Dec 11, 2017
This report concisely explains the developments for surveillance cameras offered in 2017 and the state of offerings going into 2018, including...
Imperial Capital Security Investor Conference Review on Dec 08, 2017
Investment bank Imperial Capital holds an annual Security Investor Conference where 60+ companies present, including this year: IPVM bought a...
Integrator GPS Vehicle Tracking Statistics and Success Examined on Dec 08, 2017
GPS vehicle tracking is a growing but somewhat controversial topic. On the plus side, tracking may increases productivity by providing greater...
Hikvision NA Biggest Sale of 2017 on Dec 07, 2017
Hikvision North America has been relatively disciplined the past 5 months, reducing the number of sales and the breadth of what is on sale. No...
Security Integrator IT Expertise Statistics on Dec 07, 2017
20 years ago, putting physical security systems on IP networks was just emerging. Today, almost every system is networked in some way, IP cameras...

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