Cool Stuff: KeyMe, the app that gets you in when you're locked out, for way less than a locksmith

By Polly Mosendz  | January 9, 2014 - 1:10PM

First, a confession: I am really bad about remembering my keys, and I am always locking myself out of the apartment. When you don't have a doorman, it's both pricey and annoying to wait for a locksmith.

So I was more than okay with the prospect of test-driving KeyMe,  a new-ish app which aims to stop lockouts and cut locksmith costs. 

What is it?

KeyMe offers a variety of services for those who download the app: you can store images of keys for future duplication, send these images to other app users so that they can duplicate your key (perfect for visitors), send key images to a local locksmith so he can duplicate it,  get a replacement key delivered to you via mail, or pick up a replacement key at one of the five kiosks scattered around New York City.  If you live in the city, you can also have a key delivered to you within an hour for an additional cost of $56, which is still way less than the average locksmith.

How it works

After downloading the app--currently available for iPhone and coming soon to Android--you take pictures of your keys. The keys must be on a white background, and off the keychain. Founder Gregory Marsh and his team use very sophisticated image analysis software to turn the picture into a digital encryption of the key which can then be used by locksmiths to make copies. 

First take a picture of your key against a white background and scan the image.

In my first test-run with the app, all three of my keys--one mailbox key, one regular front-door key and a secure key--were kicked over for review by a KeyMe pro.

Sometimes keys can be subject to this special approval process even if they are perfectly normal, plain keys.The extra review process, which takes about two hours, can also be triggered if "the picture is on a busy background, or if there is extreme wear and tear on the key, or if it’s a key that we just don’t support," says Marsh.  “In case the software has trouble, we don’t just want to reject those keys. We send them to someone on our team, and they will manually classify the key which is difficult for our software.”

Two of my keys came back with images in less than an hour, and the third was rejected because it is a Multi Lock “Do Not Duplicate” key.

While KeyMe is not yet equipped for Multi Lock keys, they are working on it diligently.

"We will be able to support the most common MultiLock keys early this year.  As KeyMe is more secure than traditional key duplication practices, we have received interest from high security key-makers to be their duplicator of choice.  We are in the process of exploring these relationships," says Marsh. 

KeyMe already works with Medico, another large high security key company, to create images of their most common keys. 

Overall, the process was quick and easy.

Big FYI: KeyMe does not store your address, personal information, or login information, so even if you lose your phone, no one can track down your address or make spare keys without your consent. Set up like a banking application, you cannot save your password and are auto logged out to reduce security risks. 

Making a new key

After you’ve successfully transformed your keys into images, you have a few options for making duplicates:

1. Send it to a locksmith:

Based on your location, the app displays your nearest locksmith. For $9.99, you can retrieve your key data, which will display step-by-step directions for the locksmith to use for copying your key right on your screen. You will have to pay the price of the key in shop as usual. Our local locksmith on Eighth Street and Mercer found the directions to be clear and easy to follow, though he hadn’t interacted with KeyMe before. The total cost came to $14.49. 

2. Go to a kiosk:

KeyMe offers five kiosk locations in Manhattan (four are at 7-11s and one is at a Bed Bath & Beyond). At a kiosk like the one pictured below, you can make a duplicate key by inserting the physical key into the machine or by accessing your digital keychain on the machine.

Kiosks--located inside 7-11 and Bed Bath & Beyond--make going to a locksmith unnecessary.

My first attempt was at the machine at Bed Bath and Beyond on 18th Street and Sixth Avenue. Unfortunately, the machine was undergoing maintenance and unable to make any keys when I arrived. The app hadn’t alerted me in advance, which was a bummer. Luckily, another location was only eight blocks away  (at 7-11 on 26th and Fifth Avenue). The kiosk was easy to use, and incredibly fast. In 30 seconds, I had another front door key. 

Total cost here: $5.99

3. Have it mailed:

If you're not currently locked out and immediately in need of help, you can have a duplicate key mailed to you (starting at $4.99). It will arrive in 3-5 business days, and you can customize it, too.  The selection of novelty keys was larger than any small locksmith and rivaled key-mega store Home Depot.  Personally, we liked the bottle opener key (which doubles as a bottle opner and key).

4. Same day delivery:

For a total $59 ( the cost of the key is $3, plus a $56 delivery fee), the key will arrive directly to you within an hour. While this might seem steep, it should be noted that the cheapest locksmith we could find to come within an hour was $100, and he wanted a cash only payment. 

Another option: For $59 you can have the key hand delivered.

Final verdict

Get this app. It is free to save and store your keys, even if you never plan on making a copy through the services they offer. Even if you aren’t prone to losing your keys and a friend has a copy, at some point, you’ll find yourself in your slippers in the hallway standing at your door.  Better safe than sorry! 

Convinced you’ll never lock yourself out? Think of visitors. Rather than exchanging keys next time a friend comes to visit, you can send them your key via the app. This is especially convenient for brokers and those who work in the real estate management industry.

Marsh envisions a world in which the janitorial style key ring is replaced with opening the app, and based on how easy and quick KeyMe is, we think he’s on to something. 

Related posts:

6 things to do before you move

For flat-rate locksmithing who you gonna call? Lockbusters

Rental Rookie: Breaking in is hard to do


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