UniKey may revolutionize how we open doors


You’re wobbling toward your door, your arms laden with bundles after a hard day of copiously consuming. Don’t fumble for your keys — just reach out a free finger and touch your front door lock to open it. No key, PIN or password necessary.

This premise is the promise of UniKey. It looks and otherwise acts like a normal deadbolt lock, but its touch-to-unlock capability has nothing to do with fingerprint recognition and may be the future way we’ll open all locks.

UniKey’s functionality is far more expansive than other current keyless door lock systems, which usually require a keypad PIN and/or ZigBee or Z-Wave home automation installations for remote access. Instead, UniKey uses proximity sensors and Bluetooth 4.0 in combination with an iOS app (other OS apps in development). When you get to within a prescribed range of your front door (any distance inside of 10 feet, which you can set), a proximity “bubble” is created. Without taking the phone out of your bag or pocket, without booting the UniKey app, your iPhone/iPad/iTouch talks to the lock, which can then be unlocked simply by touching it.

No app? No problem.

Or, forget the iOS device. Each UniKey lock, made by Kwikset and sold under the Kevo brand name, comes with a key fob able to create the same Bluetooth 4.0 proximity touch-to-open bubble.

But coolest part of UniKey is the app’s ability to send virtual keys, either permanent to family members or roommates, or temporary keys good only for particular dates and times such as Thursday between 4-6 pm, all cancelable at any time. If you’ve got a house guest and you have to leave, s/he he can lock the door behind them with a triple-tap — but they can’t then unlock it.

Lost or stolen phone? Just log on to the UniKey website to lock out its unlock capabilities. You can also use the website to transfer your UniKey account to a new phone.

UniKey will also keep a log of all virtual entries and exits, and send you an email or text when someone uses their virtual key.

The first UniKey deadbolt lock, the Kwikset Kevo, will go on pre-sale sometime next month from Kwikset for less than $250, with availability sometime in July. According to Dumas, you can replace your current deadbolt with the Kevo with just a screwdriver. But considering the marketing and money muscle behind it, you may see UniKey technology on a lot more locks in the coming years.

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