If you’re one of the 5.6 million UK residents to have lost their key at one time or another, you’ll understand just how frustrating it can be. Not only are you locked out of your house, but also there are security implications to think about, as well as the nuisance of having to either get another key cut or call out a locksmith. Imagine, though, a solution as simple as sending a quick SMS to unlock your doors and be safely back in your own home without the need for keys at all.
Smarterkey is making this a reality with its mobile app, which enables users to open their front doors by simply sending a text message. Founded by brothers David and Simon Moss in October 2012, and inspired by their background in real estate, the product initially set out to make life easier for property owners looking to rent out their premises for both long and short term basis. Property owners upload their rental bookings onto the Smarterkey guest access control platform, securely hosted in the cloud. When the guest turns up to check-in at the premises, the guest uses the Smarterkey mobile app to open the host’s door without requiring that the owner be present.
"Working in the overseas holiday market, I have clients who need to let people into their properties, even when it’s not possible for them to be there in person to greet their guest," said Moss. “This was becoming a recurring problem, so we went in search of a solution but could find nothing that suited us on the market. That’s when we decided to come up with the answer ourselves - something which would automate the meet-and-greet scenario and eliminate the need for keys, so we could let people into the property remotely.”
"We also envision the product being used domestically in the future, with everyday people using their mobile phones to lock and unlock their doors,” mentions Moss. “Our software allows property owners to give third party access to their digital key, be it a friend, neighbour or guest, so the risky norm of leaving a key under the doormat will also become a thing of the past.”
“In fact we are currently preparing to pitch our platform to many of the major peer-to-peer rental platforms such as Airbnb, in hope they will promote the Smarterkey solution.”
A key enabler behind Smarterkey’s functionality uses Twilio’s two-way SMS capabilities, which provides an intelligent and secure SMS validation system in the cloud.
“The guest sends a text message, powered by Twilio, to validate the guest's arrival,” explains Moss. “A wireless ‘Smarterkey Hub’ located within the property, or somewhere nearby, then interacts with an electronic cylinder placed in an everyday lock and opens the door for the guest - all within a matter of seconds.”
“The effectiveness of Twilio eliminates the need for WiFi, which is brilliant because not everyone - when on holiday for example - will have access to the Internet,” comments Moss. “The vast majority of customers, whether they have an old fashioned phone or a modern smartphone, can send a text message.”