What is Sherlock?
Sherlock is a clever combination of hardware and software which lets you and those you trust enter your home without using keys, even when you’re not in. Better still, it unlocks both your building door and apartment door, which means it works in all types of buildings, and doesn’t require you to change your locks.
And why is onefinestay giving Sherlock the chance to shine?
With more than a thousand members with beautiful homes in London and New York, onefinestay manages what is known in polite society as ‘one heck of a lot of keys.’ We’ve even developed secure chain-of-custody systems to manage them all. Naturally we began thinking how to reduce that complexity, while also increasing our members’ security (and making life easier for guests).
Haven’t I read about other systems like this?
Yes and no. There are several other emerging solutions to replace keys with a smartphone app. Most require you to change all your locks—if you live in a walk up, both the one on your apartment door as well as your building door—which makes them far too expensive and difficult in most cases. Some depend on flimsy wifi integration (which fails if your router crashes). Still others only work on a small proportion of door types.
So how does Sherlock work?
Sherlock is an altogether more canny fellow (which is why he’s also patent pending). A box around the size of pack of playing cards, it’s installed inside your apartment, near your entry phone. And because it integrates into the existing entry phone system, Sherlock doesn’t require you to change the locks on your building door, nor make any changes in common areas of your apartment building or walk-up.
If your entry phone isn’t already wired to the door of your apartment, Sherlock comes with what our locksmith friends call ‘an electric strike’ (and what our locksmith enemies call ‘an electric strike’).
And this ‘electric strike’ you speak of?
An electric strike is the thing that releases the catch when you press the buzzer on your entry phone today. Electric strikes are a standard component sold and installed by locksmiths the world over. If you already have one in your doors, Sherlock connects into it directly or via your entry phone system. If you don’t have an electric strike, they’re simple and quick for any locksmith to install.
Let me guess… the strike and the Sherlock box have some sort of meaningful relationship?
Indeed they do. When you want your doors unlocked from afar, you can text Sherlock or use the mobile app. Our servers process your request, confirm your authorisation status, and then relay the request in an encrypted form to the wireless receiver inside Sherlock. The box then tells the electric strike to release for a few seconds. Elementary.
So how do I use Sherlock?
During the installation process, we’ll register your mobile phone so that the phone, the electric strike and our servers are all connected. Then, you can use the indefatigable service to open your doors whenever you want, through our app or an SMS.
Can Sherlock open more than one door?
Indisputably. We have specifically designed Sherlock to work in homes with one door as well as homes which have a communal entry point and then another, private door, such as walk-ups or apartment buildings. In point of fact, there is nothing like him in the world.
This Sherlock appears to be a clever fellow. How does he do that?
When we install Sherlock, we make sure he can command each door between the outside world and your living space. We also set the optimum amount of time for your first and second doors to remain unlocked (typically 10-30 seconds depending on long it takes to walk from your building door to your apartment door).
Interesting theory. How does this work in practice?
When you ask Sherlock to unlock your door, you can specify which one you want to remotely unlock at that given moment. If you just want your building’s door to open, give the word and the electric strike will be held open for about ten seconds. And if you want to remotely unlock both your doors, tell Sherlock and then he’ll unlock your building’s door as before, and then your apartment’s door after a specific time delay. You can adjust this time as you wish.
And can I remotely unlock one door without unlocking the other door?
Yes. You just have to tell Sherlock which door to be held unlocked.
So how does Sherlock unlock my apartment door?
Whether you ask Sherlock to unlock the door using our app or a text, the wireless device inside the box shakes hands with our secure servers, checks that everything is tickety-boo, then tells the electric strike to do its unlocking stuff.
And does he do the same to open my building’s communal door, if I have one?
In the case of your building’s communal door (if you have one), Sherlock works via your existing entry phone system. That means that you can remotely control your communal door without affecting the system for anyone else – and without anyone having to change their locks or issue new keys.
How long do my doors stay unlocked once I’ve given the word?
Sherlock defaults to keeping your building door unlocked for about ten seconds. The lock in your apartment door will be held open for a specific time, adjusted for the distance it takes you to traverse between the two portals.
Can I use Sherlock when I’m not at home?
We’re rather hoping that’s exactly when you’ll use Sherlock. He can be summoned from your phone, by text or by app, wherever you are.
You still haven’t told me why I should use this Sherlock chap.
Because he is one of those rare breed of fellows who can liberate you from the tedium of having to wait in at home when you’d rather be scrivening in an office / parlaying with enemies / undertaking non-specific gadding about.
Which means saying goodbye to the tyranny of not knowing when the plumber or the electrician, or the cable chap may actually arrive. Be banished the drudgery of accepting deliveries! And no more frantic dashes home to let in friends and loved ones.
It also makes being a onefinestay host even simpler.
Who doesn’t want someone who does all that for you?Back to top
Sherlock’s a compatible fellow
What types of homes does Sherlock work in?
Having put Sherlock through his paces in London, we’ve found he works with 95% of home entry systems. He’s also compatible with most types of doors. And as an ever-adaptable and flexible fellow, he’ll be stretching his legs in cities outside of the UK soon.
So do I need new locks if I want to use Sherlock?
You do not. For those less au fait with lock types, most have three things common to them: a lock cylinder, a night latch and a strike (the bit that’s inside the door frame which the catch rests against). If you don’t have an electric strike in your apartment doorframe, we’ll put one in for you when we install Sherlock. Nothing else needs to change, and your keys stay the same.
What type of phones does Sherlock work with?
Sherlock works with any mobile phone that can send and receive text messages. Which means Sherlock works with any mobile phone. And if you have an iPhone, you can instruct him through our mobile app. He’s hinted that he might be working on an Android version of the app, too.
Can anyone else use Sherlock?
Part of what makes Sherlock so handy is that you can share him with people you trust. Register multiple phone numbers so you can give access to your friends, family, cleaner – or anyone else you would trust with keys to your home. You can revoke your virtual keys at any time, and you can also give out single-use keys which only work at a specific time for occasions when you are expecting a delivery.
Will Sherlock affect my neighbour’s entry phone?
Not at all. Sherlock is as polite as he is smart.Back to top
To know is to be secure
How is having a box more secure than using my keys?
Keys, as delightful and useful as they are, have a lot of limitations. Lose one, you have to change your locks. And of course rascals and vagabonds love to copy them without your permission.
Sherlock helps to reduce that sort of confounding behaviour with virtual keys. If you decide that someone should no longer be allowed access to your home, you can revoke their virtual key at any time.
Could having Sherlock installed affect my home, and contents, insurance?
onefinestay members who install Sherlock will continue to be covered by our existing insurance while we’re in charge of your home. For those times when we’re not in charge of it, we suggest that you check with your home insurance provider for a definitive answer.
Does Sherlock work if I have multiple locks on my door?
Sherlock controls one lock per door. If your apartment door has more than one lock, we recommend upgrading your primary lock to a high security unit, so that you don’t need to use a separate deadbolt. These more secure units also feature an auto-deadlocking rim nightlatch, which means that urchins wouldn’t be able to slide in a credit card. We also recommend that you should have a secure cylinder, like the Yale X5, which is bump resistant. Even when you do install additional locks, it’s usually possible to keep your current keys by transferring the barrel.
What if Sherlock doesn’t work?
Perish the thought that Sherlock might in some way let you down. But in the unlikely event that Sherlock might have to take some sort of breather, don’t forget that your doors will remain secure and your traditional keys will always work. Sherlock is continually monitored by us back at base, so if anything does go wrong, we can let you know.
What if I lose my phone?
Have no fear. Just as with your keys, there’s no mechanism to connect the app or SMS number back to your home or to Sherlock itself. If you want to get in to your home in the meantime, call us from another phone, and once we have verified who you are, we can remotely unlock the door for you with your direct authority.
What if my cell provider fails / there is a flood / the world ends?
If lightning should ever strike, rest assured Sherlock fails safe. That means that if the device is forced offline for any reason, you can always rely on a spare set of keys.
Do you keep a track of who comes into my home?
Yes, every time anyone opens your doors with Sherlock, the action is logged in our secure systems.
How secure is all this talking that Sherlock does with your servers?
All traffic to our servers use the HTTPS protocol (the ‘S’ stands for secure), and our messaging uses 128-bit SSL or higher encryption. Which means it’s very tough to break.Back to top
I want my very own Sherlock. Can I have one? Please?
Well of course. But there is a wee little trifle. And there is nothing so important as trifles.
The pudding in this case is that you need to be a onefinestay host if you want Sherlock in your home.
If you’re already one of our hosts, call your relationship manager to find out how you can have him as your doorman of choice.
And if you’re not a host, and want to join our parade of hospitality, you can find out more here.
Oh, and in case you thought we’d forgotten:Back to top
Why is this service called Sherlock?
As any reader of Conan Doyle will tell you, there is simply no one better than the brilliant detective at explaining the mystery of how one can get into – and out of – a locked room, when there are no keys in sight.