Imagine that you just finished a nice afternoon jog around your neighborhood. Your housemates are all gone on summer vacation, your landlady is equally far away, and a peaceful apartment waits for you upstairs. There’s just one thing preventing you from enjoying your Sunday afternoon: you’re locked out, and there’s no one to let you in.
Instead of spending hours on your stoop, waiting for an emergency locksmith to open the door (and then footing an expensive bill), there might be another solution.
KeyMe is a new smart phone app that stores pictures of users’ keys in a cloud service, allowing for relatively easy duplication of the key in the event of a lockout.
To start using the app, download KeyMe from the iTunes store and set up an account with your credit card. You then take a picture of both sides of your key on a white sheet of paper, and the information is saved to a cloud storage account. The app translates the pictures into a series of numbers that are common in "locksmith language." Once the key data is saved, you can order copies online for $19.99, or send the key's information to another e-mail address. Should you find yourself locked out, you can retrieve the key's data from the KeyMe cloud for $9.99 and present the information to a locksmith. Then – voilà – a new key.
KeyMe also has kiosks set up in five locations around New York City at 24-hour 7-Eleven stores. The kiosks operate on the same principle: The key is photographed, its cutting information is stored, and a new one can be produced by the kiosk in about a minute. The company is looking to expand the number of kiosks in the coming months.
The app's creators reassure users that the company uses commercial-grade security to protect the key's data, and does not store any of the users' information, other than e-mail address and KeyMe account password. Plus, requiring images of both sides of the key prevents any "fly-by" pictures of keys. It's the same security risk as giving someone a copy of your key, says the company's founder and chief executive officer, Greg Marsh.
Locksmithing is "a huge $5 billion industry that has seen very little innovation in the last few years," says Mr. Marsh. The concept of KeyMe enables locksmiths to better help customers and gives mom-and-pop locksmiths the capability to solve lockouts in ways that they couldn't really do before, he says. Now, instead of calling up a large locksmith company, KeyMe users can take their key data to a locksmith themselves.
In the next few weeks, Marsh says that KeyMe will start expanding the types of keys it can scan to include mailbox keys and, beyond that, KeyMe plans to start scanning car keys.