The new-found appeal of virtual keys

According to a recent report by Crunchbase, venture investors have poured more than $200 million into an assortment of companies with technologies tied to smart keys, padlocks, residential door locks, and commercial building access.

Why is there suddenly such a strong focus on keyless entry? The timing of investments seems to be tied to projections for user adoption rather than major technological breakthroughs. Office buildings and cars have had the option of keyless entry for decades, and smartphone apps that allow remote security monitoring have existed for years. It seems the drastic uptick in investments in the smart lock category is directly linked to the increasing rate of adoption among businesses and consumers.

The rate of adoption is in part due to the steady, steep rise of ecommerce. Virtual keys are particularly appealing in the ecommerce age because they make deliveries more convenient and eliminate customer concerns about packages being damaged or stolen from the porch. Virtual keys instead allow limited or one-time access along with a log of access so customers feel safer making big online purchases.

Major ecommerce companies like Amazon are making big bets on the adoption of this relatively new concept by launching programs like Amazon Key. A program that hinges on Amazon customers willingly letting a stranger into their homes so couriers can deliver packages while homeowners are away.

Amazon rival Wal-Mart announced a similar service last month, saying the company would test placing grocery items directly into your refrigerator, in partnership with smart lock company August Home. August was recently acquired by Assa Abloy, the world’s largest lock manufacturer. Yet another indication that lock and building access related deals, both investments and acquisitions, are gaining popularity.

With startups and tech giants alike eyeing everything from doorbells to smart appliances, the growth forecasts are looking more enticing every day.