When we were but young pups, in the words of our personal heroine Avril Lavigne, trying to figure out this life, we lost our keys so often we built a protocol into our rental procedure. Every time we rented a new apartment, the first thing we did was figure out how we could break into it in the event that we lost our keys. If no obvious access point existed, we created one – an unlocked back window, an open basement door, whatever was available. As we matured we found other solutions: Magnetic boxes under the car, keys distributed to neighbors, leaving the door unlocked for weeks on end. Now, though, the era of the lost key may be ending, and the era of the failed security certificate may be beginning with the arrival of ShareKey – the house key app.
No More Physical Keys
ShareKey is a smart phone App that uses Near Field Communication (increasingly available on most smart phones, but not the iPhone 5) to lock and unlock doors based on a permission and privileges system. The homeowner can simply hold their phone up to the locks and use the house key App to lock or unlock the door, making physical keys a thing of the past.
Even more intriguing is the App’s ability to give other people access to your home – but with complete control over their access. The homeowner can set privileges and permissions for different folks just like an Admin on a network. For example, you can give a repair worker access for a set number of days, and even a set number of hours each day. While the information we have on the house key App doesn’t specifically say this, we’d imagine (and hope) that you would also have access to a report showing who had entered your house and when. Obviously, this also means you could change someone’s permissions on the fly.
The great thing about this is how flexible it is. Instead of handing out physical keys to people, you can simply add them to your permissions remotely. Say you’re traveling and suddenly realize you left every appliance in your house running at top speed, and your gas and electric bill will be in the tens of thousands assuming your house doesn’t burn down first. Instead of having to hunt down that one neighbor who has a key, you can literally contact just about anybody (except, of course, iPhone 5 users), add them to your permissions list, and give them access. If they discover that your boiler has exploded, you can then also add the plumber and contractor to your permissions and let them come and go as needed.
The potential downsides to this is the classic security certificate problem: If you’ve ever been locked out of an account for a forgotten password or because your IP address is suddenly unrecognized or on a black list, you know what a nightmare clearing the mess up can be. Whatever you say about physical keys, they always – always – work. If you change phones, your keys still work. The list of ways ShareKey could go horribly wrong are rather endless. So while the convenience is compelling, we might consider just making a few extra copies of our house keys and burying them around the block.