Startup City

Drop the keys, use a Smarke

By Yehia El Amine    | Annahar | March 8, 2017 at 18:45

BEIRUT: Smarke, a Lebanese startup, has developed a set of connected hardware products that will allow people to access their properties using just their smartphones; while also allowing users to share access with other people who download the application.

"People don't have to worry about the hassle of carrying door keys, especially since Smarke allows you to give access to anyone, anywhere around the world," Smarke CEO Hady Abdel Nour told Annahar.

Whether it is homeowners, their loved ones or people who need temporary access, Smarke's technology permits its users to throw away keys and go all digital, putting Smarke on trend with the growing demand for smart home products.

What started off as a home-office project, later went on to join the UK Lebanon Tech Hub's International Accelerator Program. Smarke team was one of a select group of startups that went to the UK in September 2016 in a bid to gain access to British and European markets. "Our trip to London received positive feedback from the large Airbnb community there," Abdel Nour said.

Smarke turned out to be the ideal solution for the growing shared property market, with the embryonic company signing a number of contracts with property managers during the three months program.

After three years of research and development, Smarke is finally launching its products to consumers, with a special focus on the market in the MENA region, promising to "change both the way people access their properties and the way they share access to their properties with others," said Charley Bousaid, one of three co-founders of the company.

A preview of how a Smarke lock fits on a door.

With Smarke, users can use their mobile phones to enter apartments or grant immediate access to their property – whether nearby or halfway around the world while granting full control by letting users decide when others are able to check in and check out of their property – keeping the process secure, efficient and convenient. You grant access to your guest via the Smarke app by specifying the dates and times of their visit.

"We found a lot of success especially with Airbnb businesses since we are the only ones that were able to offer property owners both technologies while using the same mobile app," Abdel Nour said.

The Smarke app uses a Bluetooth connection to unlock and lock doors, so there's no need to rely on potentially hackable Wi-Fi or any vulnerable Internet connection. The device fits on any Euro Profile Cylinder lock taking just minutes to install. More importantly, Smarke also allows you a keyless entry into your building using a uniquely developed intercom chip that goes inside your intercom unit.

Smarke's home access range currently consists of three products: a smart lock, an intercom solution, and a keypad. All of these products are protected via military grade encryption – so users can relax knowing that only people they have authorized can use it, the founders say.

The smart lock retrofits onto existing Euro-profile type locks. It sits on the inside of the door, so strangers remain unaware of whether the homeowner uses Smarke.

Installation is extremely simple, taking less than five minutes and requiring no drilling, wiring, or professional assistance. It is controlled via Bluetooth by the Smarke mobile app that allows the owner to lock and unlock the door when in range, of the lock, while also allowing the lock owner to send scheduled access to others who download the application on their smartphone. It is battery operated so there is nothing to wire or connect, however, If the battery starts running low – which lasts up to six months – users are alerted via the app.

Smarke's intercom solution is completely new to the market and allows users to have a complete smart-entry solution. Anyone with an existing intercom system can install the chip in their apartment, allowing them to access their building using their phone, while also being able to send a scheduled personalized access to others via the mobile app.

Smarke's crowdfunding campaign poster.

The keypad controls the smart lock via Bluetooth. It sits discreetly on the outside of the door and offers users an alternative if they do not have their smartphones with them or their phone battery dies.

"Our families and friends were always behind us when we first started Smarke, to the extent where three of our closest friends decided to invest in our company; we are building something good with a big vision and this is only the beginning which makes the people around us supportive of our idea," Abdel Nour told Annahar.



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