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30 Oct
New Product Launch by a Client
Finished Product

Vertex is excited to announce the launch of the the new KeyLink system by BuildingLink. The KeyLink system is the result of three years of creative exploration, research, intensive design, and top-notch engineering work by Vertex and BuildingLink.com management team, the ultimate integrated platform for residential property managers and their communities.

KeyLink is designed to organize sets of keys, prevent unauthorized access, and provide a fully-documented audit trail of all key activity.

  • Locking metal key drawers accessible only to authorized employees.
  • Two basic drawer sizes (224-slot and 140-slot) which can be connected in any combination to meet requirements.
  • Authentication options for Authorized Employees include biometric login (fingerprint scan), keyfob with pin, or BuildingLink login.
  • Keytags are unmarked and identified only by an electronic chip on each tag.
  • Key removal requests trigger illumination of the drawer LED and blinking of the keytag LED.
  • Keys can be returned to any slot in any drawer.
  • Complete logging of all system activity, including employee access or failed access, key registrations, key removals and returns.

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From The Client's Blog:

"Initially, we were fortunate to have found a very creative and skilled product design firm (and mechanical and electrical engineers) which helped us to select and implement the very best possible design. In terms of the major design of the drawer system, the key tags and the method of insertion and removal, we literally developed five different designs -- both for the drawer and for the key tags. Frankly, we thought that our third design was great and already had it prototyped and started showing it to customers when we discovered shortcomings in the design. That was a real blow emotionally, and our fourth design (which was our first try to work around the new issues) was not as good as we would have liked. But then came DESIGN NUMBER FIVE, which to our real delight also turned out to be the best of all the designs by far! The sun was shining for us on that day!

Of course, in a project like this there are many opportunities to get things "right" or to "miss the mark", both in major design decisions of obvious significance as well in minor tweaks and nuances that provide an opportunity to demonstrate a fanatic attention to usability detail. In each case, we thought very carefully, explored different approaches, and in many cases actually prototyped various versions. To give you a taste of how much thought we put into every aspect of the project, below is a very small sample of the types of questions we tried to answer "right":

  • What is the maximum key height (length) we can expect to have to accommodate? (visits to 10 buildings and inspections of a few thousand random resident key sets led us to our conclusion: 3.3 inches) What is the maximum number of keys that will typically need to be attached to a single key tag (four), and what is the maximum expected thickness of those four keys (12.7 mm, so we provide a separation of 15.8 mm between key tag slots to allow adequate clearance).
  • Which color LED light is going to be most noticeable without being annoying to the operator's eye during recurring use in a room of average illumination? (blue, even though green is brighter) Which angle should the LED light be set at? (53) Would it be better to put the clear plastic light diffuser on the key tag itself or on the slotted row in the drawer? (the tag).
  • What height, width, thickness of pull-tab (the top portion of the SmartTag assembly) will make it easiest to grab and to release when removing the returning keys, without requiring extra tension that can cause soreness to the operator's fingers? Is a rubberized cover for the pull-tab helpful? (We concluded that it was not)
  • How many rows of keys should our smaller drawer contain? Is it more advantageous to have a 4-row, 108-key small drawer that is 17.5" deep or a 5-row, 140-key small-drawer that is 21" deep? (We concluded that since most desktops are at least 24" deep, the extra 3.5" will be more than offset by reducing the total # of drawers some buildings will need. We also have a 30" deep drawer. Like KeyTrak, but those are hard to fit in anywhere)
  • When attaching keys to the key tags, should we prompt users to distribute keys evenly on both sides of the key tag, or should we encourage all keys to be mounted on the same side? (same side). Which side? (the right side).
  • Should the system suggest to the user which drawer(s) to return keys to? (yes) If yes, how? (one of four different algorithms can be used by the system for determining the most logical return-to drawer)

While we are very satisfied with the quality of our initial design decisions, we fully anticipate pursuing a process of continual improvement and refinement, just as you have come to expect of us regarding our BuildingLink residential management platform."