Should the locksmithing industry jump into the Uber Bandwagon?
The perils of automated key duplication
We have seen how the On-Demand fever has caught on. There are now convenient free apps for almost everything. Takeout food, cab services and even booking private jet rides. All you have to do is download an app and start ordering while you watch tv.
We certainly praise technological advances and entrepreneurship. We know how convenience and the ability to lower prices can certainly improve our living standards. However, sometimes there are unintended consequences that lead us to question if convenience should trump
The relatively novel industry of automated key duplication is expanding. New York-Based KeyMe is said to be adding more than 2000 kiosks all over the US by the end of 2017.
They offer a key duplication service that allows you to take a picture of your key, store it online and 3D print it in any of their kiosks. Sounds great to have your key duplicated at the nearest convenience store. However, this creates a new problem: Anyone with a smartphone can make a duplicate out of your keys and gain access to your house or vehicle.
People should be worried and with good reason. As locksmiths, we know that a determined burglar can create copies of your keys using clay impressions or a key gauge. But it required certain uncommon skills.
With these new duplicate in a box kiosks, virtually anyone can do it. What’s more, they do not even need to hold your keys for more than 30 seconds. This new method of breaking into your home or running away with your car is literally idiot-proof.
What’s more, even if these companies found a way of guaranteeing that their service could only be used by legit owners, there are other things that could go wrong. A duplicate must be made with extreme precision in order to work properly and not damage your locks.
It requires years of training to even use the most advanced tools like laser cutters. A badly crafted duplicate might not work, or could really mess up your locks in a few weeks.
It has been found that not all of the keys created with the KeyMe app work. More importantly, there is no way of telling if these keys will only be used by their rightful owner
There is a reason why locksmiths are required to go through a rigorous background check. We must be sure a key never falls into the wrong hands.
So far, the automated duplication system does not offer a transparent way of knowing who can duplicate a key. They say that all of their customer’s information is erased after a duplicate is sent, including their physical address. It means that a victim of burglary has no way of knowing if his key
was duplicated with their app.
In fact, someone conducted a small prank just to see how much this business model could affect our safety in general. The article proves how easy it is to scan a key, and just go to the closest 7-Eleven to get a fresh copy of your victim’s key.
Key Kong Locksmith is not against the evolution of our industry. However, we know the dangers of unintended consequences.
We strongly advise all of our customers to only let certified master locksmiths create key duplicates. It is the only way to ensure that you are the only one with access to your home or vehicle.