danger!awesome is a makerspace located in Cambridge, MA. Awash in the entrepreneurial spirit of MIT and Harvard, danger!awesome is in constant demand by aspiring makers. What started as a small laser shop in 2011, grew to a full-fledged makerspace with an additional 2500 sq. foot space and an expanded menu of services.
danger!awesome was on the lookout for a secure accessibility solution that could scale with their growing user base while keeping them open-access.
- Keep expensive equipment secure
- 24-hour access
- Fluctuating members
- Access insights
In November 2015, danger!awesome opened the doors of their new, KISI-enabled, location. We sat down with their product lead, Dariush Nejad, to check in on their progress and how they’ve used KISI.
How did danger!awesome get started and how is your new location doing?
danger!awesome is an open-access makerspace, providing access to high-tech equipment offering laser cutting, engraving and 3D printing services for everyone. We started four years ago in the upstairs location with a traditional door lock, and in the last year and a half, we added an additional 2500sq foot location. We wanted to set the bar high and have more users in our space, but we had a problem with giving out so many keys.
We pledged to a crowd-funded solution, that was similar to KISI, but since our pledge hasn’t been fulfilled after 2 years, we started looking for an alternative.
What are some criteria that were important to you in finding a reliable solution?
One of the most important variables for us was how many people could use a lock. A lot of out-of-the-box consumer-grade systems for residential buildings only allow up to 5 keys, which would never work for our customer base. There are also very expensive RFID-tagged doors for businesses. Those options are either far too expensive to implement or they would take a lot more coding to put the kit together yourself. I am somewhat tech-savvy, but I have no means to program something like that myself, and the two co-owners don’t have time for that either. When we found KISI, it was too good to be true. It is a great mix of everything we were looking for.
We installed KISI ourselves, with some troubleshooting support. An intern designed a custom box with the d!a logo to go over the wires – a little beautification project to make things prettier on the outside.”
So, who is using KISI?
We sent out 80 keys. Most of the keys we give out are permanent but we limit access for our three tiers – night/weekends, daytime, and 24/7. Right now, we are doing a membership drive and are planning to release about 200 keys.
Any direct successes because of KISI?
People get really excited that they can have access to the space.
KISI pretty much allows us to operate 24/7. Users can come in at any hour of day to work on their projects. We can also limit their access depending on membership type. When people get signed up with for their account, they love to try it out. It’s surreal that a key can be on the phone and you can get instant access to the space.
What is your favorite feature in KISI?
My favorite feature is being able to unlock the door from wherever I am. That is amazing. I’ve opened the door for someone from a different state or across the world. We like to unlock doors for our investors with KISI as we go from location to location. People aren’t used to it, so it is great to show off.
What are some problems that KISI can address for other maker spaces?
Usability of the back end is a big problem. The user experience with KISI is really good. There’s no equipment involved, and there is a great control panel. Making adjustments, like taking away and adding keys, adjusting accessibility, and suspending memberships, is easy for a regular person to do. We can add different accessibility options for different tiers of memberships, and they are all there in the control panel and easy to find.
Another problem is the number of keys issued. I haven’t seen other solutions that allow that many keys. When you are operating a maker space, there are a lot of people who are coming in and out, lots of keys given out, which makes it hard to keep track of people.
With KISI’s user experience, it is much easier. I can see who is coming in, at what time, and how often. It makes us feel empowered.
Any future plans for KISI?
We want to dive into the analytics to see what time of day we have the most members, so we can hire accordingly. There is lots you can get from KISI.
We would love for KISI to come up with more products, or adaptive products for key systems for equipment or any devices in our shop. I’d love an option where I could lock up a laser and open it up for a member who has access. I can foresee us using a lot more KISI products.
Do you have any pre-KISI horror stories?
Yes, I do. Once, we had a broken lock… So, if there are two people in the shop, and it’s late and one person leaves and locks the door from the outside, they would lock the other person inside. So we would always ask people to never lock the door behind them. Well, one time, someone did lock the door and ended up locking someone inside. Around midnight, he realized that he was trapped inside d!a and had to call one of the managers to come in and open them up.