Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Why we are bringing digital key smart locks to Airbnb hosts

Over the last few years our company has been on a steep R&D path, but now we're excited to finally release some of the products we've been working on into the market through an online store called LocksBnb. Some of the products on our new online store are there to compliment the products we've been working on. For example last year we met the founders of at CeBIT Germany, and they've built a smartphone unlocking intercom/buzzer system (which is a circuit board/electronic unit that plugs into the interior of the existing intercom system). This product does not effect the performance of the existing intercom system - that is other people use the intercom system just like it is now, but owners/tenants in the building can 'opt-in' to make time-sensitive digital keys for friends, family members  (or guests if they operate an Airbnb). The smartlocks we've been working on are great for apartment doors, and the intercom system compliments our smartlocks perfectly by granting smartphone access to the common front apartment door for buildings with intercom systems. 

The intercom buzzer smartlock

Over the last 5 years we have built many different prototypes and done many different beta trials. We built and trialed our first hotel self check-in smartphone app back in 2011. In 2012 we built interfaces to a PMS and Channel Manager for more efficient hotel management, and for self check-in via Online Travel Agencies. In 2013/2014 we built a digital key API, refined the smartphone apps, and interfaced to more Channel Managers, PMS's and completed more installs and trials. In 2015 we built a Software Development Kit and Hardware Development Kit and started providing this to lock manufacturers so they could make their existing locks smart. 

So we’ve not finally launched an online store to bring the smartlocks we've been working on to Airbnb hosts and anyone really. We’ve made other smartlock products available on that online store such as the that compliments the ones we’ve been working on.

We believe that Airbnb hosts have the most to gain from the range of smartlocks on our online store. Hotels have had the option to take advantage of the keycard access control systems/locks for over 30 years now, but its only been in the last year or two that households can take advantage of all the benefits of timed access control with these new products called 'smartlocks'.
The benefits include better security, more convenience, and cost savings. With timed access control you make digital keys only work for the time you select (so there is never the risk of someone copying a key, and coming back to give themselves unauthorised access at a later date). You can audit the lock at any time to see who has opened it at and at what time; and you never have to replace locks if there is a lockout or lost key. The keycard systems in the past we're limited to hotels as you generally had to have the locks wired to a central computer, a server in the basement, and all this supporting infrastructure like electronic controller boxes, encoder boxes to program the keycards, and expensive software with staff training to manage the system. And therefore it only made sense to install keycard systems if there were many rooms managed in the one property. Smartlocks can offer all the benefits and functions of hotel keycard systems but without any need for the keycard infrastructure, and the software used is in an smartphone app for free (or the software is really simple to use for free on any PC). Keycards were popular for guests as well as hotels, as the guest had the convenience of not having to carry a metal key, and storing the keycard in their wallet with their other cards.
Smartlocks go one step further than keycard systems in offering owners the ability to distribute the time-sensitive digital key remotely - that is you can email/SMS the key to anyone's phone without physically having to meet the person you were distributing the key too.
So smartlocks are perfect for Airbnb hosts as they can take advantage of better security (and piece of mind), convenience for themselves and their guests and the cost savings in never having to replace locks every again.

Airbnb hosts should be aware of the dangers and risks of metal keys, and they should also be aware about how smartlocks remove these dangers and risks. The problems of metal keys in this day and age of Youtube, and the Internet is enhanced as anyone can watch a two minute video and learn how to bump, crack, snap or jemmy open a traditional metal key lock in minutes, and also order the tools easily online to break the metal key lock too (e.g you can buy order bump keys online for $10 that can pretty much open any metal key lock anywhere in the world). 

Airbnb hosts should also be aware that they are also exposing themselves to greater risks of distributing their metal keys to strangers on Airbnb, where the stranger can copy or lose, or keep a metal key (and say they've lost it) and come back anytime in the future and let themselves in again, and steal assets, or attack the people in the property they have unauthorized unlimited access to. Airbnb hosts should also be aware that hotels chose to replace metal key locks from about 30 years ago, as it was also about them saving money in never having to replace a lock if a key was lost/stolen, or if a lockout occurred.

If you would like to order a smart lock for your Airbnb, please visit our store

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