On a freezing-cold morning a few months ago, I woke up early, threw on a jacket, and dashed outside to walk my dog, Winston. But as I pulled the door behind me and heard the lock click, it occurred to me that my keys were still sitting on the front-room table.
For years, unfortunate folks like me had few options. Hidden keys under doormats or fake rocks. Now there’s another place to stash a spare: the cloud.
KeyMe is a smartphone app that lets users scan and store house keys for safekeeping. It’s simple to use: Take a picture of both sides of the key and wait 24 hours for the KeyMe team to enter it into their system. Then, you can access the digital key one of several ways: by mail, delivery, or by going to a locksmith, who can make a copy using their special wizardry (the data is translated into a code that helps render the digital key into a physical product).
You can now also visit one of two local kiosks at Stop & Shops in Dorchester and Malden (the firm now has 70 kiosks in 18 states across the country). With a simple fingerprint scan, the app can pull your key from the cloud in seconds.
KeyMe says they’ve built in safeguards for those concerned about security: All kiosk transactions are filmed, as they are at ATMs, and there are features built into the app to prevent thieves from scanning and printing copies.
Eager to have a place to turn to for the next time I found myself locked out, I downloaded the app and found it easy to use. The kiosk, however, proved to be a bit finicky. I logged in and quickly found my key in their system. The only problem? The machine was being updated so I couldn’t get my key. I gave the company a call, and the update was halted. When making my key I also added one of their special features — a built-in bottle opener (just in case). The total was $21.74 — far less than calling a locksmith.
The final test came when I got home . . . and realized I’d left my back door unlocked.
The takeaway: The KeyMe system is convenient and easy — as long as you’re comfortable storing things in the cloud. With wider distribution of the kiosks, they seem sure to gain traction.
Janelle Nanos can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @janellenanos.
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