Inspect-a-Gadget is a monthly segment where we feature a tech toy our editors have been playing with.
Igloohome’s slick ‘Smart Keybox’ is touted as the first that works offline. The box is latched to a railing or fastened to a wall and can be used to secure keys or cards until unlocked via passcode or Bluetooth.
Though you can customize the lock’s passcodes when connected via an app, this gadget’s most impressive feature is what it doesn’t do: connect to Wi-Fi.
Despite a lack of Wi-Fi – which also prevents hacking – you are able to generate valid, time-sensitive passcodes from anywhere, no net connection needed.
Confused? The mobile app is synced with the lock and expiration data is hidden in the passcode itself.
It’s the same tech used in those calculator-looking things that spit out single-use passwords for web banking.
This means you can remotely create a code for a friend swinging by your house, or an Airbnb that arrived early, just as long as you have your phone with the app. Hide the box outside your apartment and it’ll save you a few hundred renminbi the next time you lock yourself out.
The Apple-like packaging includes instructions and most users will need to read the full directions hosted online.
Sold-separately batteries are said to last about 12 months, but they’re set inside the box, so what happens if they die?
Igloohome’s solution is, literally, two-pronged: you can press a standard nine-volt battery against two prongs to ‘jumpstart’ the lock.
The Bluetooth key feature is impressive in principle but less so in person. Shareable via WeChat or QR code, it requires the receiver to download the app. They can then hold their phone next to the lock to open it – after first waking the lock and wrangling with the Bluetooth connection.
For first-time users, a few seconds of wait time is maddening. Our advice: keep it simple with the lockbox’s novel tech and use a passcode.
How much: RMB1150
Sold where: China: email@example.com, elsewhere: igloohome.co
For who: Airbnb hosts, losers of keys
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