Disrupting Residential Access Control? Lockitron

By: Ethan Ace, Published on May 09, 2012

Can the traditional access control market be disrupted by new entrants leveraging consumer technologies and mobile phones? One startup, Lockitron, is backed by a powerful Silicon Valley investment firm and gaining significant attention [link no longer available] in the technology press. Lockitron is reaching out directly to consumers with a simple mobile phone enabled key replacement system. In this note, we will examine Lockitron's competive positioning versus other providers such as Schlage and Kwikset.

[UPDATE 2012: This product has been discontinued and replaced by a far more disruptive lock adaptor.]

Overview

The Lockitron system consists of:

  • Wireless, battery-powered locks, available in cylindrical and deadbolt models, and limited mortise forms. An apartment building buzzer interface is also available.
  • Users with NFC-capable phones may scan stick-on tags to grant access, in lieu of launching the app.
  • An internet-connected base station transmitter (requiring an Ethernet port on the customer's router or LAN). This transmitter bridges commands between the Lockitron's servers and the lock on site.
  • Lockitron’s cloud-based service, which receives commands from users via mobile phone, either through text message or via dedicated apps, or a web interface. 

Lockitron explains its offering in this overview video:

NFC Capabilities

Lockitron's use of NFC differs from others, such as HID's heavily publicized implementation. HID is using the phone as a credential, actually writing identity information to the NFC chip, which is then presented as a credential to iCLASS SE readers, and authenticated to central servers. By contrast, scanning a Lockitron NFC tag simply causes the phone to start their app and unlock the door, passing no credential information. 

Strengths and Weaknesses

There are some distinct advantages to this product.

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

  • Convenience: We believe the prospect of eliminating keys alone will sell quite a few of these locks. The ability to send unlock codes to guests via text message may be extremely handy for users, so they can let friends, babysitters, or other guests into their home or business without being there. 
  • Ease of install: Cylindrical locksets and deadbolts are also relatively easy to install, meaning homeowners with a do-it-yourself leaning will likely latch onto it. 
  • Direct sales: Lockitron is leveraging the massive growth of the mobile web and using a business model that cuts out the traditional channel.

With all these advantages, however, there are some drawbacks.

  • No failsafes: The base station requires power and internet connection at all times.  Losing either means lock and unlock commands won’t be sent to the lockset. Considering Lockitron’s cited goal of “one less thing in your pocket”, this is a major drawback. Assume a user leaves his or her house without keys, and there’s a power outage or internet failure in the meantime. Returning home, the lockset doesn’t open. Without keys, there’s no way to enter the house to investigate why exactly it doesn’t open. Keys and a mechanical lock, or even battery-operated keypad locksets, don’t suffer this same fate. 
  • Limited range: The distance between base station and lock is also limited, with Lockitron citing 15-30 feet as the recommended range. This seems fine for apartment dwellers, but much less practical for owners of single family homes, or those looking to install multiple locksets. Commercial wireless locksets often cite ranges ten times this (as discussed in our Wireless [link no longer available]  [link no longer available]Access [link no longer available]  [link no longer available]Training [link no longer available]), while other residential options, such as Z-Wave enabled locks, offer about the same wireless range.

Competitive Comparison

A major difference between this and other keyless entry products on the market is its lack of integration to other systems. Manufacturers such as Schlage and Kwikset offer battery-operated keypad locks which are intended to integrate with other home automation systems. 

  • Schlage [link no longer available]’ [link no longer available]s [link no longer available]  [link no longer available]LiNK [link no longer available] platform is intended to be an all-in-one solution, with lighting and HVAC control, as well as some surveillance and security options, accessible via web browser or mobile phone app. 
  • Kwikset offers a simpler solution, providing Z-Wave wireless enabled keypad locks, which may be interfaced with alarm panels and control systems. This Z-Wave capability allows doors to be locked when the system is armed at night, for example. 

Lockitron lacks the advanced capabilities of either of these options, instead choosing to focus on only locking, unlocking, and guest access. Whether these features will be added in the future is currently unknown.

Hardware pricing is the same or higher than as other residential/very small commercial offerings; Cylindrical and deadbolt locks [link no longer available] are available with a base station from $295 and $335 with no recurring fees. This is approximately the same as a Schlage LiNK starter kit, which can be found online for between $150 and $300, but the LiNK system requires a $9/month recurring fee.  Kwikset’s Home Connect hardware retails for about $200-$250 online, which includes only the lockset, without basestation, since it’s meant to integrate with other systems.

Market Impact

All factors considered, we see Lockitron as a useful option for residential, SOHO, and small business customers who wish to do little more than lock and unlock doors. Lockitron’s locksets and base stations are currently sold in a 1:1 ratio, whereas offerings such as Schlage’s LiNK series are one-to-many, which limits Lockitron’s usefulness in multi-door environments beyond a handful of doors. This will be remedied in a future update, according to the manufacturer. We also do not see Lockitron as a realistic competitor to true online access systems, due to the lack of system-wide management, multi-user access and logging, and real-time monitoring. For customers who don’t require these features, and want to avoid the associated expense, it may be a good fit.

2 reports cite this report:

The New Generation of Crowdfunded Security Startups on Sep 02, 2014
New entrants to the security market are few and far between. However, there...
Startup: Smart Security Padlock on Aug 22, 2014
Want to eliminate using keys or combinations? Replace them with your...
Comments : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

LSP Presents 2nd Generation FP Power Supplies on Apr 29, 2020
Life Safety Power (LSP) presented its FP2 power supply in the April 2020 IPVM...
Mobile Access Control Guide on Aug 28, 2019
One of the biggest trends in access for the last few years has been the...
Avigilon Shifts Cloud Strategy - Merges Blue and ACC on Jan 23, 2020
Avigilon is shifting its cloud strategy, phasing out its Blue web-managed...
Remote Network Access for Video Surveillance Guide on Jul 27, 2020
Remotely accessing surveillance systems is key in 2020, with more and more...
HID Releases VertX Replacement Aero on Aug 10, 2020
HID is replacing two established and broadly supported types of access...
Vunetrix Health Monitoring Company Profile on Nov 26, 2019
Vunetrix boasts that they make the integrators the 'HERO' by using Vunetrix's...
Dormakaba Presents Switch Tech Smartlocks on May 01, 2020
Dormakaba presented its Switch Tech smartlock at the April 2020 IPVM New...
Remote Access (DDNS vs P2P vs VPN) Usage Statistics 2019 on Oct 25, 2019
Remote access can make systems more usable but also more vulnerable. How are...
Verkada Access Control Tested on Sep 09, 2020
Verkada raised $80 million earlier in 2020, expanding from video into access...
Mobile Access Control Usage Statistics 2020 on Sep 21, 2020
Most smartphones can be used as access control credentials, but how...
Hotel Access Control Explained on Dec 23, 2019
Hotel access control does not work like typical commercial access control...
Wyze AI Analytics Tested - Beats Axis and Hikvision, Now Improved, Now Being Terminated on Nov 25, 2019
When we originally tested Wyze's free person detection deep learning...
Wireless / WiFi Access Lock Guide on Nov 12, 2019
For some access openings, running wires can add thousands in cost, and...
Milestone XProtect on AWS Tested on Sep 21, 2020
Milestone finally launched multiple cloud solutions in 2020, taking a...
Exit Devices For Access Control Tutorial on Aug 25, 2020
Exit Devices, also called 'Panic Bars' or 'Crash Bars' are required by safety...

Recent Reports

Temperature Tablet Shootout - Dahua, Hikvision, ZKTeco, TVT + 5 More on Sep 30, 2020
Temperature tablets, aka terminal or stations, have emerged as a 'low-cost...
New Products Show Fall 2020 Tomorrow Bosch, FLIR, Hanwha, Tyco, Avigilon More! on Sep 30, 2020
IPVM's sixth online show concludes tomorrow with our special temperature...
ButterflyMX Raises $35 Million on Sep 30, 2020
Startup ButterflyMX has raised $35 million for its smartphone based intercom...
Worst Access Control Manufacturers 2020 on Sep 30, 2020
200+ Integrators told IPVM "In the past year, what access control...
Access Control Levels and Schedules Tutorial on Sep 29, 2020
Configuring access levels and setting up schedules is central to maintaining...
Avigilon / Motorola VS Virtual ISC West on Sep 29, 2020
ISC West has historically been so dominant that no player would think of...
Dartmouth College Deploys K3 Temperature Screening on Sep 29, 2020
While Dartmouth College has a $6+ billion endowment, the College has bought...
Hanwha AI Object Detection Tested on Sep 28, 2020
Hanwha has added detection and classification of people, cars, clothing...
Favorite Access Control Manufacturers 2020 on Sep 28, 2020
200+ Integrators told IPVM "What is your favorite access control management...
OnTech Smart Services Partners With Google and Amazon To Compete With Integrators on Sep 25, 2020
A pain point for many homeowners to use consumer security and surveillance is...
The Future of Metalens For Video Surveillance Cameras - MIT / UMass / Immervision on Sep 25, 2020
Panoramic cameras using 'fisheye' lens have become commonplace in video...
Hikvision Sues Over Brazilian Airport Loss on Sep 24, 2020
Hikvision was excluded from a Brazilian airport project because it is owned...
China General Chamber of Commerce Calls Out US Politics on Sep 24, 2020
While US-China relations are at an all-time low, optimism about relations...
Verkada Disruptive Embedded Live Help on Sep 24, 2020
Call up your integrator? Have someone come by the next day? Verkada is...
IP Networking Course Fall 2020 - Last Chance - Register Now on Sep 23, 2020
Today is the last chance to register for the only IP networking course...