LAS VEGAS — From a laundry-folding robot to Alexa-enabled mirrors, smart home technology is all the rage at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Among this year’s recipients of the CES Innovation Awards is the LubnBox, a smart key box with visual authentication.
At $199 to $349, the product is sold by Lubn, a Seattle-based startup that is part of WeWork Labs. Lubn is developing hardware and software products designed for property managers, retail store owners and others who have to manage people entering and leaving their properties.
Seattle startup @LubnAccess is at #CES2019, showing off their LTE smart key box. This is designed for property managers, store owners & others who want to control property access remotely. Cost ranges from $199 to 349. pic.twitter.com/lJtdN3IWDj
— GeekWire (@geekwire) January 8, 2019
On the software side, Lubn offers an app and a dashboard that allows a property manager to decide who can get into their properties and at what times. The LubnBox is the connected hardware that holds keys to a property.
YC (Yuan-Chou) Chung, Lubn founder and CEO, envisions his product being used by people like rental property managers who have to manage multiple homes. These types of users may deal with situations in which several tenant applicants ask to visit different locations at the same time. With Lubn, the manager would not have to be present at a property for a visitor to be able to enter.
Managers could also schedule times for applicants to enter specific properties. Once a booking is made through the dashboard, an itinerary is sent to the visitor’s phone with a QR code. A visitor would then scan their code on the LubnBox during their scheduled time frame, and the box would dispense the keys.
The device is connected to the internet, allowing it to send a notification to the manager as soon as the keys are dispensed. The box can also take a photo of the visitor and send it to the property manager, along with information on the duration of their visit.
The latest version of this device comes with a built-in motion sensor, so if a person tried to tamper with the device, Chung said, the LubnBox would take photos of the person and immediately send those photos to the property manager.
Chung said this product could also be used by people who expect dog sitters, cleaners and other service providers to enter their homes while they are away.
Lubn started shipping the first version of its smart key box in November and plans to start shipping its second version later this year.
In September, Chung participated in GeekWire’s Elevator Pitch, a series that challenges startup founders to pitch their concepts in the time it takes to get to the top of Seattle’s Smith Tower. One of the judges of the competition was venture investor Heather Redman of Flying Fish Partners.
After listening to his pitch, Chung said, Redman suggested that he think about different kinds of markets, like Airbnb hosts, and about developing a software development kit (SDK).
An SDK would allow a manager to build their own booking button on their website, so clients could schedule property visits themselves.
Chung is a former user experience designer at Microsoft. He started at Microsoft Hardware, where he worked on the first Surface design, and later worked on apps as part of the Windows team. He leads a team of six people at Lubn, including three employees in Taiwan.