Sesame by Candy House is Kickstarter Smart Lock that aims to convert any old deadbolt into a smart internet connected lock.
Launched in February 2015, Candy House launched their Kickstarter Campaign on the promise that mass-production had already started, and backers would have the Sesame Smart Lock in their hands by mid 2015. After raising over US$1.4 million and 7,000 backers, today (January 2017) there are still backers from both inside and outside of the US yet to receive their Sesame Smart Locks.
Fortunately for me, being in Australia, I’ve been one of the lucky ones to receive my Sesame Smart Lock. Although, the WiFi Adapter is still yet to be seen.
So should you get a Sesame Smart Lock? Let’s take a look at Sesame the Product, and Candy House the company to find out.
Should I buy the Sesame Smart Lock?
Sesame by Candy House seems like a great product. However, their deception to Kickstarter Backers and inability to maintain timelines makes this company untrustworthy. Claims of battery life issues and customers not receiving refunds, along with a clear track record of Candy House ignoring backers questions and concerns only cement this feeling.
Once Kickstarter Pledges have been fulfilled and WiFi access points delivered, it will be interesting to see if Candy House will continue to develop features for Sesame, or abandon it like so many other Kickstarter products. If that happens, I’ll have a nice $149 paper weight that can’t unlock my door.
Right now it is too early to tell what integrations there will be with a Sesame Smart Lock, until the company releases a WiFi adapter and an API for developers to use. If you’re not renting (or can change your lock permanently), you might be better off spending your money on an existing smart lock. An August Smart Lock or Z-wave Smart Lock would be ideal, and can integrate better with your other Home Automation gear.
The Good & The Bad
- The unique design of Sesame product feels premium and like a well made product.
- Retrofit device that uses 3M strips for easy removal. Great if you’re renting.
- No need to take apart your existing lock or change your keys.
- Allows your keys to still be used to open your door from the outside.
- Guest feature enables you to allow family members and guests to unlock your door without keys.
- Product apps are still in beta, and buggy. Some parts of the apps feel less polished.
- Promised and advertised features such as Knock, Android Wear, HomeKit are still non-existent two years after they were promised.
- Candy House’s communication with backers gives the impression Candy House are hiding things.
- Timelines are constantly missed and pushed back, most likely due to poor planning and execution.
- Claims from some customers that have returned Sesame for a refund have been left high and dry with no refund and no sesame, with no acknowledgment from Candy House.
Candy House the Company
Candy House is co-founded by Stanford University student Jerming Gu, who started Candy House in July 2014. Jerming has been the only real consistent [public facing] employee at Candy House throughout the Kickstarter Campaign. With several (I think we’re up-to our third) community managers throughout the campaign.
Sesame is the first product for the young company. The US$1.4million Kickstarter Campaign was surely a shock to the students behind the campaign. It’s a shame their lack of communication and transparency with backers has tainted their companies reputation before they completed delivering their first product.
Kickstarter Campaign Timeline
|26 February 2015||Kickstarter Campaign Launches|
|12 MARCH 2015||Candy House announces support for the Apple Watch|
|26 March 2015||Candy House posts an update claiming mass production has “already” started.
Now that mass production has already started. Sesame will soon be delivered to your hands and the magic will be real.
|3 APRIL 2015||Candy House posts a video showing Android Wear Support.
Great news for Android Wear fans, Sesame is now compatible! Now you only need to say “Open Sesame” and your door opens magically.
|27 April 2015||Kickstarter Campaign closes, raising US$1,428,519.|
|20 MAY 2015||In their first update to backers since the Kickstarter Campaign closed, Candy House advises that they are still trialing production, and Mass Production has not taken place. Contrary to their 26 March update.
We will begin production by the end of May, and the production and packaging process will take approximately two weeks. This means that the first batch can be shipped as early as mid-June if everything goes smoothly. At the latest, the first batch will be shipped by the end of June.
|6 July 2015||After missing the June deadline to ship their first batch of units, Candy House advises of more delays, and changes to WiFi access points.|
|13 OCTOBER 2015||More delays and milestones missed. Candy House advises that the first batch for US backers is ready to ship, but now just waiting for improved packaging.|
|12 December 2015||Packaging is ready to ship, however Candy House discovers issues with motors supplied for the original batch of Sesame units. More delays to come.
WiFi access point trials “ready for mass production” and be shipped with Sesame units in January 2016. Also advises they have a Apple Homekit version for testing, but “not satisfied with the speed and power consumption of the chip we’re using”. This is the last official mention of Apple Homekit in Kickstarter Updates.
|5 FEBRUARY 2016||Almost one year after the launch of their Kickstarter Campaign, and after making fun of other smart locks being delayed, Candy House starts shipping units to US backers – without WiFi access points.
We expect to fulfill all Kickstarter pledges over the next couple of weeks.
|9 June 2016||Candy House starts shipping units to international backers, once again without WiFi access points.
Our new WiFi access point has been approved by FCC and UL last week. We have undergone mass production since 2 weeks ago. We will introduce the New Wi-Fi Access Point to you soon.
|9 AUGUST 2016||With production of the WiFi access point already started according to Candy House, another date for the WiFi access point is given.
When can you get it? We’re aiming to grind it out by Thanksgiving.
|November 2016||Candy House starts selling the Sesame Smart Lock on Amazon, before all Kickstarter backers have received their pledges.|
|12 DECEMBER 2016||After posting two updates over the November thanksgiving period without acknowledging the WiFi access point issue, Candy House advises:
Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi Access Point will NOT be delivered before the new year; however, each of the components are in mass production level, and we plan to start shipping out the Wi-Fi Access Point in February 2017.
Where we Stand Today
Today is 5 February 2017. It’s just under two years since the initial Kickstarter Campaign launched. Here’s the current state of affairs:
- Some backers inside the US, and many international backers have yet to receive their Sesame Smart Locks.
- The last official update from Candy House mentioned more information about the WiFi access point would be delivered in the first few weeks of January. This never came.
- Rumors in the comments are mentioning some people are now being told WiFi access points are delayed again, with a new shipping date of late March 2017, if not April.
- Mobile applications on Android and iOS are still marked as “beta”.
- There is no Android Wear support, despite the video from April 2015.
- Candy House promised to release source code as open source to allow developers to integrate Sesame into Smart Home applications. There has been no mention of this from Candy House since.
- Candy House is refusing to refund backers, until they receive their Sesame. Backers who still want a refund after they’ve received their Sesame are advised to send the Sesame back to Candy House, where they’ll send you a refund. However, a lot of people in the comments are complaining that Candy House are not issuing refunds after products have been returned, which seems very dodgy and unprofessional.
- Candy House are now selling directly to consumers via Amazon, despite a lot of backers from inside and outside the US complaining to have received their units.
The Sesame product itself is very well designed, and feels like a premium product. The packaging feels great in the hand, and almost like you’re unboxing the latest flagship phone from Apple or Samsung.
Let’s take a look what’s inside the box.
- The Sesame itself, with the colour cover of your choice
- Spare 3M Mounting Strips
- A couple of lock adapaters to fit over your doors lock
- An optional mounting bracket
On the back of the box is a “what’s included” section which mentions the inclusion of the WiFi access point. I can’t see any physical room for a WiFi access point to sit inside the box, let alone a cutout for it in the future.
Unboxing and Installing Sesame
Before I attached Sesame to my door with the 3M tape, I first needed to check that the Sesame could lock and unlock my door. Since backing the Kickstarter in 2015, I’ve moved into another apartment. Luckily for me my new apartment uses the same style lock that is compatible with Sesame.
Initially placing the Sesame over my door lock I couldn’t get the unit to unlock or lock my door. After a bit of fiddling, I discovered that the green mechanism inside the Sesame to turn the lock wasn’t long enough to reach my door lock. That’s what the green lock adapters are for. Unfortunately however nice the packaging for Sesame is, these basic instructions aren’t included on the box. Snapping a green adapter into the Sesame, and then trying again I was able to manually lock and unlock with the Sesame over my door lock.
Installing the Sesame App
I ran into problems with the Sesame Android App. On my Google Pixel phone, which is running Android 7.1 I was able to register for a Sesame account. However, after turning on the Sesame and searching for it on my phone, my phone detected the Sesame but then claimed it couldn’t connect to it, and to check my internet connection. Not a helpful error, seeings as 2 seconds before I was able to register for a Candy House account, and receive the email on my phone.
I then tried to use my Galaxy Note 4, which is running Android 4. I wasn’t able to login to the Sesame App. It complained about my internet connection. I registered a new Sesame account with a different email address, but still couldn’t sign in. Turns out this is a known problem on Android 4, which Sesame said they would address in October. Clearly they are still on Candy House time, and Android 4x cannot use the Sesame app. Their solution? Update your operating system or get a new phone.
So I went back to my Google Pixel. This time I turned off WiFi, and was somehow able to get the Sesame to register to my phone. From there it was smooth sailing. Setting the lock and unlocked positions was simple, easy and how the whole process should be. Pressing lock and unlock works as intended.
Adding a Guest
Before you can add a Guest to your sesame, they must register for a Candy House account. This doesn’t seem very user friendly in my opinion. If I want to give someone Guest access to my door, then I don’t want to have to explain to them to download an app on their phone called Sesame, and register for an account. Instead, I should be able to send them an invitation with either an email or SMS, and then they will have instructions sent to them on how to access my Sesame.
Hopefully if Candy House survive, these features will come in a future software update. Maybe before the next Olympics. Probably not though.
So far Sesame has worked great. Although it’s still very early days for me. The lock is rather loud to what I was expecting, at least on the inside of the door. From outside it seems much quieter.
Connecting to Sesame from Android once the Sesame app is open is very quick. Seems about the same on iOS as well.
The Auto Lock feature, (which is something I was looking forward to) seems very limited for now though. You can’t set a time when you would like the Auto Lock to be in effect (for example after 10pm, etc). And you can only choose the auto lock duration up-to 4 minutes. This means if you go outside to your car and forget your keys and phone, you better realise within 4 minutes otherwise Sesame will lock you out.
When/if the WiFi access point comes out, hopefully an integration into a Smart Home system like Home Assistant or Smarthings will make these automation rules better.
The Bottom Line
Right now I still believe it’s too early to commit to Candy House and their Sesame. They’ve lost my trust, and they’ll need to earn it back before I will recommend their products. If you want to buy a Sesame, you can do so right now on Amazon. I believe Amazon orders must be shipped within a certain time frame. If you order from the Candy House website, you may have to wait along with all the Kickstarter backers who have yet to receive their order.
Hopefully a kick ass WiFi access point will ship this year, and it’ll get integrated with Home Assistant. Until then, at least I have another gadget to prove how lazy I am.