Short of becoming an expert in the art of picking locks, digging around for the right key is the only option for most people – or at least it was before Lockitron
When Cameron Robertson first met his future Apigy co-founder, Paul Gerhardt, at the University of Colorado they almost immediately discovered a mutual affinity for tinkering. Their first joint endeavour began with combining Internet-connected hardware and a fire detector.
“It would send you a text message when it went off and we thought that was a pretty neat idea and we built a prototype, however it would have been very expensive,” reminisces Robertson.
Rather than give up, the two men started to look for another piece of hardware that they could connect to the Internet, something that would have a more reasonable price and be used more frequently. From here it wasn’t long until access doors came on their radar and after sketching out the idea it only took the duo a weekend to build a prototype. Their creation was a (successful) attempt to open and lock doors with the use of a mobile app, which would also inform owners when and if their door had been opened or closed.
"We set it up at our house, just prior to our friends – who also run a start-up – having a party"
“We set it up at our house, just prior to our friends – who also run a start-up – having a party. They had a lot of investors over so we were showing off this new Lockitron prototype and a lot of them were very excited. Some said that they would purchase it for several hundred dollars.”
By 2011 the first version of Lockitron was launched. A full replacement lock that needed to be installed by a locksmith, it had two components that had to be within signal reach of one another and one of which had to be plugged in before it became possible to unlock the door by using a smartphone. But like with most products that grow out of great ideas, the 2.0 version is the one that hits the spot.
Taking into account the feedback on the first Lockitron, the Apigy Team developed a successor that was released in October 2012. The current Lockitron, which was greatly supported by crowd funding, is self-contained, has built in WiFi, is easy to install, works with both Android and iOS and is only half the price of its predecessor. While the first version of the Lockitron was mainly interesting for (small) business owners, the new one, is “pretty universal” and fits most common doors in the US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
“There’s about two to three extra types of locks out there, where if we made Lockitron compatible versions we would cover most of the types of locks in the world,” Robertson adds.
The smart door lock is great for short-term or vacation rentals, where it has the potential to simplify the key management. Private users can open the door for their kids after school or friends who come to visit when they are not home. Since users receive texts when someone unlocks their door with a phone or traditional key, they have control of who goes in even when they are not there.
“This Lockitron is much smarter than it needs to be. The difference between the new and the old one is night and day!”
In fact, even if a phone should get lost, the Lockitron password can easily be reset by the owner, much like a password for a Facebook or Gmail account, albeit with a bit more concern given to encryption and other precautions. As Robertson explains, “We are very vigilant about our security and that includes a person trying to hack it as well as the security on your phone and our servers.” Because Lockitron is connected to the Internet, its safety software can frequently be updated, which allows for any newly discovered vulnerabilities to be resolved quickly.
The five man-strong Apigy team has used external contractors to help with specific developments, but it is also growing and recruiting internally, particularly as orders increase.
“We’ve received 15,000 reservations so our biggest goal is to get Lockitron out to all these customers on time,” Robertson says.
Even though the witty gadget might be a little late for Christmas, it is definitely an innovative and useful device to make everyday life a little simpler.