The future of the sharing economy: How Keycafe is automating property management with IoT

The rise of the sharing economy services like Airbnb has highlighted a demand for greater key management across properties. For instance, most Airbnb guests expect to be checked-in upon arrival, which can be a challenge for hosts who can’t be home 24/7. The same challenge can be found across logistics sites. Employees often need keys for rooms and equipment, but may not have easy access to them on worksites.

Thankfully, with Particle, Keycafe is automating property management to make sharing keys easier. With the Particle IoT platform, Keycafe developed a smart lockbox that allows property owners to easily manage and share keys across properties. By reducing the challenges of key management, Keycafe is optimizing the guest experience and helping property owners save time and money around the world:

Keycafe, IoT, Particle, Sharing Economy

In the early days, Keycafe tried many different connected solutions before they came across Particle. They wanted to give users an easy way to gain access to keys remotely, but weren’t sure how they could do it. Additionally, it was hard to trust an external vendor to implement a solution correctly.

Particle provides Keycafe everything they need

Keycafe, IoT, Particle, Sharing Economy

Keycafe chose the Particle IoT platform because it provided everything they needed to develop a connected product, from device to cloud. To get up and running, Keycafe used a Particle E Series module to connect their lockboxes to the Internet over cellular networks. 

The Particle E Series is an industrial connectivity hardware module that comes with a SIM card and data plan out of the box. These hardware features gave Keycafe the flexibility to install their lockboxes anywhere and remain confident that they wouldn’t lose connection.

With Particle’s suite of development tools, Keycafe could easily write the software that make their SmartBoxes function. And finally, the Particle Device Cloud gave them full control of their lockboxes. They could easily manage and track the number of the SmartBoxes they had out in the real world.

SmartBox — the optimized property owner and guest experience

Keycafe, IoT, Particle, Sharing Economy

Keycafe’s network of SmartBoxes allows users to manage and get access to keys using their phone. Guests who are checking in can get directions to the SmartBox via their phone, and hosts receive an automatic notification when a guest has taken a key out the SmartBox. 

  • Easy-to-find: The Particle IoT platform helps communicate where the SmartBox is online, allowing guests to easily locate the nearest lockbox on their phone.
  • Secure access — The Particle platform handles all the authentication to Keycafe’s server, ensuring customer information is sent securely. 
  • Increased Visibility — Managers and host can manage everything online, they know exactly where keys are, who has taken them, and when they’ve been picked up / dropped off.

The bottom line

For Particle and Keyface, this IoT project proved to be immensely successful. With units deployed around the world, and adoption growing rapidly, Keycafe is set up for success.

Author Bio

Content Strategist at Particle - Discovering how the world is using real IoT one story at a time.