Thursday, 29 September 2016

Amazon wants their mailman to use digital keys to drop parcels into your home

Yes, its already that time of the year again! Well almost - you know we are getting closer to Christmas every year, when stories appear in the mainstream press about parcel deliveries, and their problems. This year Amazon is finally sticking its neck out, and proposing a solution. This is a solution here at digital keys we've been proposing every year for the last 3 years e.g see our Dec 2014 blog here. Of course alot of people these days purchase Christmas presents online, and people want their parcels delivered safely to their home.

You all know the problem - order something online, and the parcel is dropped off on your doorstep exposed to weather, insects/animals, or thieves. Of course a lot of the time you get a note in your letterbox saying that your parcel can be picked up from a warehouse/storage facility (usually during a small daily time window like 9am-3pm). This is of course a terrible solution, as the whole idea of "home delivery" is that the parcel is delivered to your "home", and many people work full-time away from home and cannot get to the storage centres when they are open.

According to a recent TechCrunch report, two smart home connected lock companies, August and Garagio are “working with retailers and Amazon on technology that would allow delivery people temporary access when they’re making deliveries.”

In the tests of August locks shoppers are given the option for in-home delivery during checkout. If a shopper gives the OK, a one-time access code is issued. The delivery service uses the code to open the front door or garage door, leave the package, and close the door. The code can’t be used again.

So this technology has been around for atleast 10 years now. Here at LEAPIN Digital Keys we first used this technology in our web check-in systems and mobile check-in systems with digital keys in resorts and hotels back in 2011. Now Amazon and others are actually seriously considering it. Wow - how progressive of you Amazon. 

Now most of the stories in the last week about Amazon testing this solution has used the angle about whether people "will trust the delivery man" with a 'digital key' to their home. Already there has been some significant backlash about this. And everytime we talked about smart lock digital keys as a means to solve the 'last mile delivery problem' to anyone whether they be potential investors, homeowners, people in the postal industry, there was always the same response, and that is "I won't trust a delivery man with access to my home". And commonly we got "that's a stupid idea". Usually the justification was, "I have pets, I have children, who would run out when the door opened". Or commonly we heard, "what if the delivery man doesn't just drop the parcel, but goes through my house, or makes arrangements with thieves to go into my house and steal all my stuff, or would he close the door afterwards or not - I just would not trust him".

Of course Amazon, the big retailers and the postal companies have been aware of the smart lock digital key solution for some time, and they have also been aware that most people won't trust the delivery man with access to their homes. So these companies have been experimenting with another digital key solution, and that is delivery to car boots/trunks. E.g see this story on Sep 2 2016 here about Daimler, Audi, and DHL testing a digital key solution, and Volvo claiming they were the first with the digital key solution earlier this year.

Commonly with new proposed solutions, it throws up a bunch of new problems - with the car digital key delivery solution, people asked, "what about food spoiling in the car, to what about drug deliveries, to what about bomb deliveries, and to what about the delivery guy stealing the car, or not closing the trunk properly, or people seeing the package delivered and breaking into the car to steal it".  As you can see from the chart below its doesn't have to be very hot for a car to get very hot. So if your car is out on the street, and if you are accepting deliveries, you need to make sure that whatever is in the the package can handle 100F for hours or days at a time.

Here at Digital Keys we tried to address some of the problems such as "trust of mailman with house digital keys" and "leaving door open" by putting digital keys into delivery boxes in yards, and also building prototypes of digital keys in window locks/openers.

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what digital key solution that is proposed, and by whom, what matters to the consumer and homeowner is two things; 1; "trust", and 2; "cost". Trust with the person who has access with the digital key, and 'trust' of the security of the smart lock/digital key product itself (e.g see last weeks blog about hacking on smart locks).

So we are calling on Amazon if they are serious about solving some of the last mile problems with digital keys to "put their money where their mouth is". Or is this talk about trials with August, and Garagio just another publicity stunt to get Amazon headlines? So how about it Amazon - chip into some of your $399 Billion worth, and offer homeowners a subsidy to buy digital keys smart locks to put on their homes to address the problem of cost. If a smart lock cost can be reduced to around the same price of normal locks, that is around $30-$50, then homeowners may be willing to give them a go. This won't immediately solve the problem of trust, but it will solve the problem of costs. And if people can try out the digital keys smart locks for a period, they may build up trust, and then tell others that this solution can be trusted.

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