Kisi is a 'digital doorman' so you can control locks with your mobile phone - Technical.ly Brooklyn

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Nov. 27, 2013 9:15 am

Kisi is a ‘digital doorman’ so you can control locks with your mobile phone

Kisi is a hardware maker offering software-as-a-service to landlords managing office buildings and other sites that need to be able to give 24-hour access to users without staffing. Essentially, their system allows users to turn their mobile phones into keys.

Maximilian Schütz, one of the three Kisi cofounders, with the company's prototype hardware device in its 3D-printed housing.

(Photo by Brady Dale)

Bringing digital to the functional hardware of a working lock is German transplant startup Kisi, based in the NYU-Poly DUMBO Incubator inside 20 Jay St.

Kisi is a hardware maker offering software-as-a-service to landlords managing office buildings and other sites that need to be able to give 24-hour access to users without staffing. Essentially, their system allows users to turn their mobile phones into keys.

All the user has to do is open up the app and slide an icon to unlock the door. Even better, they can share the key with others as needed, while easily taking away their access as needed as well. Kisi expects to go into production next year.

They already have 22 clients using its hardware around New York already, with clients already lined up going into production.

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A recent update to the app asks the user whether or not they would like to unlock the door whenever they get close to one that is enabled for its access. This saves the user from having to find the app and open it on their phone each time they reach the door. Cofounder Maximilian Schütz said that they continue to work to balance useability with security. For example, he said, you could make it so that the doors unlocked when a user approaches a door, except that’s risky if they approach but don’t go through.

It works atop existing software, which means if you get to a space and your cell phone has run out of its battery, you can still get in if you have a physical key.

Kisi's three cofounders in a photo courtesy of NYC Next Idea competition.

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Kisi‘s three cofounders came here from Munich after winning the NYC Next Idea competition for 2013Maximilian Schütz told Technically Brooklyn that they have found Brooklyn to be especially good for developing a hardware system.

For example, when they need to manufacture metal parts, they have shops within walking distance that can fabricate them for them as needed. They have two additional people on staff besides the three cofounders, for a team of five.

The idea for the startup came to the three cofounders during Oktoberfest at home in Germany.

They finally managed to get into a tent, which is hard to do at the over-crowded mega-event, when they got a call from visitors asking them to let them into their apartment. “Wouldn’t it be nice, we thought,” Schütz told us, “if we could send them a key through our cell phone, so we could stay in the tent.”

They had to leave the tent to let their friends in, but it is beginning to look as though it were worth it.

Kisi at NYU-Poly Dumbo incubator

Kisi system installed on the entrance to the NYU-Poly DUMBO incubator. Before Kisi joined the space, its management did not have a good way to get keys to all the staff that needed access.

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