When smart locks first came onto the market a couple of years ago, they were targeted at homeowners, with benefits marketed such as;
Give a digital key to a cleaner which only works from 11am-1pm every Wednesday when you are not there and which is the only time the cleaner needs to access your property
Give a digital key to a contractor doing renovations on your house, that only works for the 2 weeks that they are working in your house
Give a digital key to your dog walker that only works between 4-5pm every Tuesday, so they can pick up your dog when you are not there, and drop them off again
Give a digital key to your family members coming to stay over Christmas so they can come and go for that time, but the key stops working as soon as they leave
Get notifications when your kids unlock your door, so you know they have safely arrived home from school.
Don’t worry about lost or copied keys floating around, where anyone could access your house at anytime
Unlock your door without having to put your shopping bags down - the door automatically unlocks when you approach it
Ditch your bulky keys/keyrings
Never be locked out again
Never worry about if you locked/closed the front door (alerts are sent to your phone to notify you if the door is open/unlocked.
Sure some of these benefits appealed to some people. But the hardest thing for the smart lock companies when they first started out was convincing homeowners that this list of benefits above was worth paying 10-15 times the price for a standard metal key lock. A standard metal key lock costs $10-$30, where a smart lock typically costs between $200-$300.
A few new start-ups had a go at adding to this list of benefits with successful crowdfunding campaigns or capital raises. Some of the additional benefits that the new smart locks marketed include;
Intrusion detection- get notified when someone is trying to break into your house
Great for Airbnb’s where you can generate digital keys that only work for the time of your guest staying, and you don’t have to meet them for the key handover, and you don’t have to worry about them cutting a copy of the key and letting themselves in at a future date
Get piece of mind - revoke keys at anytime for family members, partners, friends, or room-mates who you no longer want to access your home.
Works with Alexa or Siri, so you can unlock your door with only your voice, “Siri, unlock the door”.
Great for supported living for elderly people - know when they leave the house, or arrive home. Give keys to nurses, care workers who can easily access the properties for elderly people who find it hard to move around
Then we had Amazon and the delivery companies enter the smart lock market- their sole benefit of installing the smart lock was marketed as;
Safely receive packages delivered inside your house (the smart lock was accompanied by a camera which switched on when the courier opened the door).
But what most smart lock companies have failed to recognize is the benefits that smart locks bring to non-residential uses.
Below is an example list of commercial uses/applications and the benefits specific to that industry/company;
Market Use/application - Any company or business anywhere in the world to control access
Track/monitor employees presence on sites in real-time for mandatory Occupational Health and Safety reporting/legalities, and for emergency and insurance situations. Those companies/businesses that do not meet OH&S guidelines (regarding tracking can be fined or liable to legal action). The smart lock can become like a punch card log in system.
Market Use/application - Hotels
Save money by being able to run a Hotel without the need to staff a reception desk 24/7 or in some cases with smart locks there is no need to have an onsite reception desk at all - guests can self check-in on a smartphone app, and have the digital key to their room downloaded in the app and go straight to their room
Save money on electricity costs, so the power can be automatically switched off when someone leaves the room (the lock can communicate over the cloud to the electricity when the lock opens and someone leaves)
Save money by not having to pay the Online Travel agencies. Hotels pay 10-30% to take the guests bookings -with a Guest loyalty app with digital keys a new booking channel for the hotel is created, so that guests who use this booking channel can download the digital key to their room (and go straight to their room, and get rewards points too) - like Hilton’s Digital Keys.
Improve good will, and hopefully get repeat customers - by providing a reliable, convenient, and secure access control system that doesn’t constantly break down like mag-stripe keycard systems used in hotels which have been around 30-40 years ago and which are constantly breaking down.
Market Use/application - Security Companies
Get instant notifications whenever anyone tampers with a lock anywhere, such as an ATM, so that police can quickly be dispatched
Know which employee is opening/locking any lock anywhere at anytime for tracking/monitoring employees, reporting to customers.
Market Use/application - Utility Companies
Distribute digital keys online and make them easily self accessible so that workers/contractors can access electrical boxes, base stations, padlocks on gates, electricity poles, transformer boxes, meters etc without having drive across town to pick up keys from head offices. This saves time and money, and also makes the operation more secure (keys can get lost, not returned).
Market Use/application - Construction Companies
Secure a property (commercial, residential, industrial) early in the construction process with a smart lock, so contractors can safely deliver materials to the site, without worrying about materials being stolen (its too difficult to distribute metal keys to contractors coming and going at all hours/control the access with metal keys). NB IoT smart locks are perfect for this, as they require no onsite network infrastructure.
Market Use/application - Government Owned Housing
Save money by not having to pay a locksmith to come out and change the locks every time there is a change of tenancy (it costs the Government around $150 to get a new lock and pay the locksmith to change the locks on every house they own when a tenancy ends). Governments often own tens of thousands, and even millions of houses, which constantly have change in tenants.
Market Use/application - Bank owned homes
Some Governments around the world are fining banks for not filing the repossessed homes they got during the recession for underutilizing resources. So banks suddenly find themselves being forced to turn the repossessed homes they own into Airbnb’s and/or short term leases or get regular monthly fines. Smart locks make it easier for property management, by enabling the guests to pay for the use of the property and get their digital key to the property that only works for the duration of their bookings.