Could a new service for storing physical keys in the cloud be useful to businesses? That question is raised by a new app that photographs and stores the digital dimensions of a physical key in the cloud, allowing it to be re-created whenever you need a new key.
The iPhone app is from a company called KeyMe, which also recently launched two kiosks in New York City that inexpensively create keys without human involvement. Their new app allows instructions for a locksmith -- human or not -- to be generated from an image of a physical key, so that the key can be made anywhere. The service can make a key for you, which can take several days and will cost $4.99, or you can take the specs to a key maker.
The instructions inform the key maker which blank key they will need, as well as the depth of the key's teeth. KeyMe founder Greg Marsh told news media that "you can walk into a mom and pop locksmith and give them instructions to make your key."
But such convenience requires planning if you're going to use the KeyMe app, just as it does for the key-making kiosks. In the case of the app, a needs to take an image of the key using the app's image capture function, and then store it in the cloud in case the key goes missing. In the case of the kiosk, the customer similarly has to scan a key in order to get a duplicate made or in case the stored version will be needed for a future emergency key making.
The app instructs the user to place the key on a white sheet of paper and, at a specified distance, take an image of both sides. The service does not work using an ordinary photograph, providing some protection against counterfeiters.
The service charges $9.99 for retrieving the instructions from the cloud, plus you'll have to pay to have the key made, which is undoubtedly less expensive than the going rate for a locksmith opening a locked door. The app itself is free. As one might expect, the cloud-retrieved data can also be used directly in a KeyMe kiosk, or potentially at any service that adopts the app.
Appealing to Businesses?
KeyMe says the key images and data are securely stored in the cloud, employing encryption and password protection.
Laura DiDio, an analyst with industry research firm Information Technology Intelligence Consulting, predicted that this kind of technology and service "absolutely could find approval with businesses, especially if it gets accepted by consumers."
She added that small- to medium-size businesses in particular might find this an attractive option, but that she wouldn't rule out large enterprises considering the service an inexpensive way to provide emergency backup keys for, say, custodial departments or branch offices.