The humble key, as used by millions of homeowners around the world, is a triumph of design. It is easy to use, usually untraceable, and the lock into which it fits is secure. But now that the Internet of Things is maturing, the benefits of replacing this centuries-old technology are becoming ever more compelling. Reliability is the only factor holding many digital systems back, but that doesn’t look like it is going to be a problem for customers of a new provider named Kiwi.
Rather than relying on a smartphone, and its perilously short battery life, Kiwi’s “Ki” is an RFID chip that you can attach (ironically) to a keyring. Whenever you move to within about three meters of your pad, your door is unlocked. Furthermore, the system does not require the replacement of the lock in your door.
Instead, Kiwi just adds a motorized opening mechanism. For a locksmith, this is twenty minutes’ work. The mechanism also includes a SIM card, which means the system can be updated remotely, and unlocked from your smartphone if you so wish. The connectivity of the system means each user has a profile but, according to Kiwi, not one that tracks entries or movement.
The combination of physical and digital control is obviously convenient for any resident, but one particularly compelling use is for Airbnb hosts. Guests can be given a Ki to enter their accommodation, but access can still be controlled from afar.
At present, the system has only been installed in around 1,500 dwellings in Germany, but with fresh funding, Kiwi has big plans to put its technology into hundreds of thousands of apartment blocks and homes in the near future.
For ongoing use of the system, Kiwi charges a one-time fee of €25 (approx. $27) for each Ki, and a subscription of anywhere between €1 and €5 per month, depending on the number of people in the household.
See Kiwi’s website for more info.