Keep Your Keys In The Cloud And Have Them Delivered When You Need Them

A new level of personal service for New York's "robot locksmith" app

Locked Out

Photo by 12th St David on Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

KeyMe, the company that brought robot locksmiths and photo-copy-able keys to New York, is launching a new service. This time, there's not much new technology involved. You'll just be able to get your robot-made key copy delivered to you, by a person, via the KeyMe app. "Our goal is to be 24 hours and to be able to help you out whenever you need a key," KeyMe CEO Greg Marsh tells Popular Science.

Using KeyMe still requires some foresight. Before you accidentally lock yourself out anywhere, you need to have scanned your key, either at a kiosk or using your iPhone. KeyMe saves a digital file of your key's shape, which you're then able to easily access any time you want a key. Besides getting the key delivered, you can go to one of KeyMe's robotic kiosks to get a key cut for you, or you can mail-order copies of your keys through the app.

One-hour personal delivery costs $59. Three-hour delivery costs $20. For now, delivery is only available from 10 am to 9 pm, Monday through Saturday, anywhere in Manhattan south of 125th Street. Marsh says the company plans to extend hours in the future and to provide service to the outer boroughs. It also plans eventually to offer deliveries in Boston. The company partners with local locksmiths to cut the keys and make the deliveries.

Shelving in the KeyMe Office

KeyMe

Meanwhile, since the KeyMe robot kiosks launched in June, the KeyMe algorithms have undergone updates, Marsh says. The algorithms are the coolest technology the company has: they are able to infer a key's three-dimensional shape from a photograph of it. As more people have signed up for KeyMe and allowed the company to scan their keys, company engineers have used that pool of digital data to teach their algorithms how to better recognize key shapes.

Nevertheless, the algorithms can fail, with strange results. A friend of mine tried to copy his key at a kiosk, but got a non-working key in return. Afterward, KeyMe sent him a $5 Amazon gift certificate, although he had not complained to the company. "They knew somehow," he says (You can see much of our conversation on Twitter). "I guess they could tell the scan was wonky."

Impressed, he tried again, but then the kiosk gave him an entirely uncut key.

"These are related errors, so your friend's key was giving our kiosk trouble for some reason," Marsh says. "Although errors are not common, they can be caused by unusual geometrical features on the key or a hardware malfunction in the kiosk." Let KeyMe know if their algorithms fail you, Marsh says. The company will provide a refund, a free set of keys and an Amazon gift card.