Back in December 2013, we wrote a short feature on KeyMe, an app that enables you to scan a key and 3D print it. We were not sure whether the service would be a benefit to people who have lost their keys or a useful tool for burglars to break into someone’s house. Now, half a year later, the app is getting a lot of criticism after Wired’s Andy Greenberg successfully used the app to break into his neighbor’s house, proving the system could easily be used maliciously.
KeyMe customers can print their keys from the KeyMe iOS app using a digital copy of the key stored in KeyMe’s cloud. The digital copy comes from a 3D scan, which can be made in just 30 seconds. And that is exactly what people now think is the problem with this service. It is very easy to make a 3D scan of someone’s keys, so when you’re sitting in a pub with your keys on the table a ‘friend’ could simply grab them to 3D scan them and take your keys into the could. Hypothetically, but you get the idea.
3Ders reports that in 2009 a group of researchers even managed to produce proper replicas of keys pictured on photos taken 200 miles away from the actual keys.
Just the other week, Wired’s Andy Greenberg tried the system himself and managed to sneak into his neighbor’s home using a key he scanned when his neighbor wasn’t looking. It took him 30 seconds to scan the key, after which he used KeyMe to get a proper 3D print of the key.
KeyMe also responded to Wired, stating digitally reporting is way safer than doing it in a traditional way. The reason? When you’re using this service, your credit card record, account information and fingerprint will be stored, which makes it easier for the company to trace suspects. Their CEO Greg Marsh said:
“We have all this accountability and data that doesn’t exist when you make keys with traditional methods. If a key was found to be used maliciously, we have a clear path to find out who was responsible.”
There are surely two sides to this new system, which can be useful when you’re locked out of your house: you can just use the stored file in the cloud and use a KeyMe point (in New York City) to enter your house again. There are also other companies that have followed the example of KeyMe – KeysDuplicated from San Fransisco and Belgian Keysave. They also use a smartphone app, after which users can order their keys via mail. With three companies in the field, the system can’t be denied and we guess it now is the right time to think about the possible consequences.
Credits image: Key Me.