Your Phone Is Your Key

Mobile Phone is Key Unikey

Unikey is a smart phone enabled “key” for your home; founder Phil Dumas brings his revolutionary technology into the Shark Tank this Friday in what appears to be the “hot product” of the season’s final episode. The ABC press release for this final episode of Shark Tank states “The Sharks start a feeding frenzy for a chance to go into the residential lock business with a man from Orlando, FL who invented a way to incorporate the common key into a mobile phone.”

“Feeding Frenzy” is pretty strong language, even for ABC’s press releases (which tend to be somewhat dramatic). I can see why a frenzy would ensue, Unikey is a very  cool and convenient technology that has NO COMPETITION. What Unikey does is make your smart phone, combined with a proprietary lock set, into your house key.  It allows you to simply touch your lock (while holding your smart phone) and unlock your home. You can even send a “temporary key” to a service person or contractor, visiting friend, or anyone else you want to leave a key for. You can de-activate the temporary keys anytime.

Aside from being extremely cool, this is a tremendously convenient technology. No more lock outs or hiding keys for visitors. Access to your home is provided at the touch of a button. Home automation has been a big buzzword for many years, but has not come to fruition in the mass market. While Unikey is only providing one aspect of home automation, its aim is putting it into the hands of the masses for the one thing most Americans do: lock and unlock their front doors.

I can see why there would be a feeding frenzy for Unikey in the Shark Tank. This is a new idea with no competition. I am sure the usual questions about patents will arise, but I have to believe the upside for this business easily approaches hundreds of millions of dollars in sales- and that’s just for the residential market. Using Unikey’s technology for office buildings and other business locations could bring even more sales.

Robert Herjavec, Kevin O’Leary and Mark Cuban all own or have owned tech related businesses. They have even invested in some on the Shark Tank. The fact that Unikey is breaking new ground leads me to believe they are involved in the “frenzy.”

It sounds like this is the pitch of the week, with or without a key, I am “in.”

About Rob Merlino

Entrepreneur, auteur, raconteur. Rob Merlino is a blogger and writer who enjoys the Shark Tank TV show and Hot Dogs. A father of five who freelances in a variety of publications, Rob has a stable of websites including Shark Tank Blog, Hot Dog Stories, Rob Merlino.com and more.

Comments

  1. Elissa Feldman says

    This is a wonderful idea. For business i really like it. I am so afraid though about what happens if you loose that phone. Then what?

  2. i would SO get this for my house… makes it easy and secure and i like the fact i can give someone a digital key and i can set them to be allowed in my house for that time window…

  3. Wow…this is great….Finally we can do away with keys as we know them!!! It is very, very reasonably priced!!! Where can I purchase 2 of them??? I have been shopping around for Touch Pad locks….and they cost over $300.00 each. So these would be a deal for sure! Thanks Phil.!!! Please e-mail me where I can buy your Locks….@ jwbw2010@att.net

  4. But they do have competition, there is a company called Lockitron out there that does the same kind of thing. I’m surprised this didn’t come up. It should be interesting to see how UniKey does on its patent applications.

    • Yes there is plenty of competition which is good because it validates the market somewhat. But I don’t believe any of them reduce the friction in the user experience enough to go viral or become the defacto standard for this market. And I am curious if Unikey tried to get into HomeDepot or Lowes? And if not, why not?

      Lockitron appears to be more like the zwave products I mention that use the local wifi LAN to unlock the door from inside the home. Unikey is different in that the Bluetooth signal from the users smart phone directly unlocks the door from the outside. This is somewhat similar however to the Lockitron NFC solution which uses smartphones that are equipped with NFC to open the door from the outside and the Openways solution which uses audio (DTMF) also from the outside.

      But my argument begs the question are any of these solutions better than say a simple push button ResortLock that allows the owner to issue codes from anywhere but doesn’t require wifi at the home to work? Yes it is $300 so I guess price may be the determining factor if Unikey is much cheaper. But besides not needing wifi, the ResortLock does not require a smart phone and certainly not NFC. I think Mark should consider all of this when he does due diligence. The Openways DTMF solution is better than Bluetooth or NFC because it will work with any device with an mp3 player which includes almost all phones and not just smart phones.

      PS No, I am not in this market and I do not work for any of these companies. But I do have a synergistic technology that I have thought about using in the home and hotel space to unlock doors which explains my interest.

    • There is also a product called SecuRemote that is sold by First Watch Security that allows you to operate your entry points to your home with your smartphone including your garage door, entry door, and gate. This is also done using bluetooth technology and the data network of the phone.

  5. John Mellberg says

    Great idea Phil and brilliant negotiation with Mark & Mr Wonderful. Best of luck to you!

  6. Uh it is not really all that new. Resort lock has a lock that I have used for years where you can email a code to anyone to unlock their proprietary lock using an time encryption and I think they also now have one you can remotely unlock via wireless internet. Granted you have to push some buttons on the earlier version but also the user does not need a smart phone (not everyone has a smart phone yet). And from the wireless side, there is another company called OpenWays that has introduced a proprietary conversion for hotel locks that works with a smart phone using DTMF (audible tones like on your touch tone phone). They can easily jump into this same residential market. Then there is zwave locks that use wifi from within the home to unlock.

    Great that they have Cuban on board for the visibility but it will still be tough to penetrate the market very deeply unless they are really low in price and I am thinking that will not be the case. I see this and I think of the mobile wallet and NFC technology which still has not taken off because it just isn’t any better than a credit card in the user experience. Likewise, I am thinking this is not significantly better than a key and waiting for an app to come up and pair with bluetooth can make it even worse.

    But best of luck. it will be interesting to watch:)

  7. Littlepoem says

    I think if your phone can open a touchpad lock it would be optimal. That way u can still have a number pad & pass code for if u forgot your key/phone and you can also give the pass code in emergencies. U can give regular visitors like a cleaner/dog walker/temp housemate a key card/phone access. You can always change the code and render pass access granted useless. I wonder if the unikey is easier to break into than a touchpad because it uses a reg key and lock can be picked?

  8. Looks like a great product that I would buy.

  9. I WANT TO GET STOCK ON THIS NEW PRODUCT!!!!

  10. My name is Kevin and i write to you from Fort McMurray Alberta Canada. I am an avid watcher of Dragons Den as well as Shark Tank and this is the greatest idea I have seen come on either show to date. I want to know exactly how I can get my hands on on of these UniKey’s. I have been online looking all day and found nothing. Please somebody help me out.

  11. This looks good, but it appears other products have been out already that do exactly the same function-

    Will be interesting to see how the patent turns out given this…

    • I don’t think they will have a problem getting a patent unless they claim something so broad like a claim against any door that opens using Bluetooth.

      In some ways the Smarthome solution is superior because you can keep your existing door knob whereas I don’t see how the Unikey solution would not require replacing both the handle lock and the bolt lock hardware. Smarthome is an electric door strike solution that works on the outer door frame so getting power to the strike is not a problem whereas the Unikey solution requires batteries. On the other hand, installation is likely more complicated for the SmartHome solution and every smartphone has to be paired to the lock (otherwise they would need an app). So they lose a few points for not being able to send a virtual key to a guest remotely (although I am not convinced that is all that valuable outside of a vacation rental).

      Neither solutions are a slam dunk. Marketing, distribution and price will provide a market leader. Technically I think several solutions are closely matched.

  12. Ok so get on with it…. I can not wait forever….

  13. I love this idea! I currently have a touch code lock because my son has lost the keys so many times…yet he hasn’t lost his phone, ever! The problem with the current lock is that I forget how to erase the temporary codes I’ve made, and I would love the convenience of setting up an actual temporary lock. This is genius, and I look forward to buying one.

  14. strange, I swear I have seen this kind of lock already. Definitely the future but this works on bluetooth so most people will have to turn BT on before they get home and then pair it. This might take longer than taking out your keys.

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