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Amazon expands ‘Key’ wireless entry to garages, businesses

January 9, 2019

Amazon has expanded to commercial establishments a system that allows delivery drivers to enter homes by punching in access codes to unlock doors with the authorization of homeowners.

In introducing Key by Amazon in 2017, Amazon cited increasing incidents of “porch pirates” stealing packages after delivery to homes. The system allows homeowners to use their mobile phones to create temporary codes to unlock front doors so that Amazon deliveries can be placed inside the front foyer, also allowing access to other service people or acquaintances.

Amazon has yet to roll out Key by Amazon in all parts of the country, with coverage gaps including southwestern Connecticut and Long Island City where Amazon plans to open a new corporate campus with as many as 25,000 employees. Key by Amazon requires membership in Amazon Prime, which costs $120 a year.

On Monday afternoon, Amazon announced the latest iterations of Key by Amazon, which adds WiFi wireless compatibility in addition to mobile phone access; the ability to control a Schlage deadbolt, priced at $250; the ability to have drivers leave packages inside garages as an alternative to front foyers; and a Key for Business fob allowing drivers to enter homes and businesses, while creating a digital record of their visits.

As expected, Amazon has also added compatibility with its Ring app that monitors approaching visitors, with the company spending $1 billion last year to acquire Ring.

“Giving customers the ability to lock and unlock their Key-compatible locks directly from the Ring app is a no-brainer,” said Jamie Siminoff, founder of Ring, in a written statement. “With the integration of Key, they’ll ... be able to use the Ring app to open the door to neighbors, family, and service providers they do want coming and going, no matter where they are.”

After Key by Amazon was revealed in October 2017, critics warned of possible abuses, including the possibility of hackers finding a way to intercept codes and sell the information on the dark web. Amazon has assured customers that it has sufficient digital safeguards on the system to prevent that from happening, with Schlage, Yale and Kwikset furnishing locks for the system.

Speaking in October, the CEO of Yale lock maker Assa Abloy said that his company’s sales of Key by Amazon-enabled locks did “not take off that fast” in comparison to similar Nest systems sold by Google.

“It’s on a lower than ... expected level,” Assa Abloy CEO Nico Delvaux said during an October conference call with investment analysts. “Perhaps it has ... to do with the approach with Amazon Key — Amazon really wants to own the entrance to the consumer in U.S., where Google Nest’s just more an approach of, ‘we add another hardware component to our ecosystem.’”

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman

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