What if you never needed to remember a combination or a key to open a lock?
That’s the premise for a new lock available across the country in January that opens by harnessing the energy of your phone.
KISS Solutions, which serves the self-storage industry, developed the lock with First Turn Innovations, a business incubator where KISS is a client. First Turn works with entrepreneurs in manufacturing, mobility, and other fields.
Here’s how First Turn helped KISS Solutions CEO Rob Kapp transform his good idea into a product that will be on the market in January 2024.
Kapp knew the opportunity was great for the product he envisioned. There are roughly 22 million self-storage doors in the U.S., and all currently use a combination lock or lock with key. Neither are especially popular options.
But Kapp didn’t have all the expertise needed to develop the product on his own. He required mechanical and electrical design along with prototype creation, small batch production, and tradeshow displays. “We needed the tools for manufacturing along with legal support for patenting and software development,” he says.
First Turn could offer him access to a broad spectrum of resources, including design, engineering, and prototyping. “They have a large network of talent,” Kapp says. He moved his company into First Turn Innovation’s 7,000-square-foot incubator facility in April 2023.
Kapp worked closely with First Turn Innovations co-founder Todd Mory on development of the new technology. The lock opens when you tap your phone to it, drawing on the phone’s energy.
The lock and technology will be marketed first to self-storage facilities. But it has promise for all sorts of other uses, including opening lockers at gyms and airports, accessing community amenities like pools, unlatching hotel doors, and turning on heavy machinery that typically requires a key.
The lock gets “permission” to open thanks to near field communication (NFC) technology. You use NFC technology when you tap your credit card to a device at the gas pump or grocery store.
Once the new lock goes to market, First Turn Innovations will receive a royalty for all units sold. Kapp considers the financial partnership well worth it for the services and advice that First Turn provided. He praises First Turn’s “ongoing support of our product design, along with their responsiveness and speed for bringing products to market.”