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 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 Access Training), 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. 

  • Schlages LiNK 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 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 is one area that is clearly driving new security startups -...
Startup: Smart Security Padlock on Aug 22, 2014
Want to eliminate using keys or combinations? Replace them with your smartphone to control access. That's what startup Noke (pronounced 'no-key')...
Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

HID Mobile Tested on Jun 21, 2019
HID Global is one of the largest access brands, but their mobile access has had challenges. Indeed, the company has already restructured their...
Genetec Synergis Cloud Link - Complex, Costly and Confusing on Jun 18, 2019
Genetec's Synergis Cloud Link is complex, costly and confusing compared to competitor access control architectures. Inside this note, we examine...
Biometrics Usage Statistics 2019 on Jun 17, 2019
While face and fingerprint recognition are used regularly for smartphones, it is not as common in physical security. In this note, we examine...
Farpointe Data Conekt Mobile Access Reader Tested on Jun 13, 2019
California based Farpointe Data has been a significant OEM supplier of conventional access readers for years to companies including DMP, RS2, DSX,...
Favorite Wireless Manufacturers 2019 on Jun 12, 2019
Many wireless options exist for video surveillance but how are integrator's overall favorites? 170 integrators answered the question: What is...
Dumber Techs, Bad Box Movers, Says Australian Distributor on Jun 10, 2019
Techs today are "dumber" than they used to be, despite better education and training and that makes a typical day "frustrating" for one...
Directory of 30+ VSaaS / Cloud Video Surveillance Providers on Jun 07, 2019
This directory provides a list of VSaaS / cloud video surveillance providers to help you see and research what options are available. 2019 State...
OSDP Access Control Guide on Jun 04, 2019
Access control readers and controllers need to communicate. While Wiegand has been the de facto standard for decades, OSDP aims to solve major...
Vidsys New President Interviewed on May 31, 2019
A decade ago, PSIM was hot with projections then of a billion dollar market by now. This has not come close to happening. However, Vidsys, one of...
Access Control Job Walk Guide on May 22, 2019
Significant money can be saved and problems avoided with an access control job walk if you know what to look for and what to ask. By inviting...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Hikvision Colorvu Camera Tested on Jun 24, 2019
Hikvision says their new ColorVu line captures "vivid chromatic images in darkness", with unconventional white light illuminations whereas most...
China Subway Facial Recognition System Examined on Jun 24, 2019
A China city of 6+ million people has installed facial recognition-enabled gates in subways, allowing commuters to enter stations by simply showing...
HID Mobile Tested on Jun 21, 2019
HID Global is one of the largest access brands, but their mobile access has had challenges. Indeed, the company has already restructured their...
Genetec Beats Milestone For IHS #1 on Jun 21, 2019
For years, Milestone has touted that they are the #1 VMS. Now, Genetec has beaten them in IHS rankings. But what is this? Even other manufacturers...
Risk of Amazon Alexa Guard: No Battery Or Cell Backup on Jun 20, 2019
Amazon positions its Alexa Guard Service as a "smart home security system" and says it can help you "keep your home safe". However, the...
Exacq Remote Cloud Access Tested on Jun 20, 2019
Remote cloud access has been missing from most VMSes (including Exacq and Milestone). Now, Exacq, after releasing Cloud Drive Storage earlier in...
Briefcam Buys Frost Award* on Jun 20, 2019
Frost 'awards' are well-known and widely disrespected. Now Briefcam is touting their win. The way it has worked for many years is that Frost...
IFSEC 2019 Show Report on Jun 19, 2019
The UK's largest trade show, IFSEC, is underway and IPVM has been examining what is new and happening at the show. Inside, we cover: Huawei...
Repositionable Multi-Imager Camera Shootout - Avigilon, Axis, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Panasonic, Vivotek on Jun 19, 2019
Repositionable multi-imager cameras are one of the fastest growing segments in video surveillance, with a slew of new offerings being recently...
Genetec Synergis Cloud Link - Complex, Costly and Confusing on Jun 18, 2019
Genetec's Synergis Cloud Link is complex, costly and confusing compared to competitor access control architectures. Inside this note, we examine...

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