March 11, 2021

The Latch C2: Q&A with Dhruva Rajendra and Tim Stonelake

The Latch C2 was launched in February 2021, and is the latest addition to our line of smart access devices. The C2 is the first Latch lock designed with both new construction and retrofits in mind. As buildings age, door frames shift and motorized locks can become compromised. The C2 was built to solve this problem and make LatchOS more accessible to more buildings. With a manual thumbturn, enhanced battery life, and Qi-powered jumpstart, the C2 brings Latch to more people and more doors than ever before. 

With no extra wiring or infrastructure needed, the C2 is easy to install and is a gateway to the entire LatchOS ecosystem. Our five modules power a building’s most important capabilities, including smart access, guest and delivery management, smart home and sensors, connectivity, and resident experience to make buildings better places to live, work, and visit.

We talked to Tim Stonelake, Vice President, Access Product, and Dhruva Rajendra, Chief Product Officer, about our latest launch.

What sparked the initial idea for C2?

Tim: The C2 was designed for the imperfect door. For tricky doors that are misaligned, a motorized deadbolt isn’t the best option because the door won’t lock if it’s not fully closed, for example. With a manual thumbturn, the user has control of the locking action. They can be sure their door is secure through tactile feedback in the thumbturn, making it the ideal solution for older buildings.

Dhruva: We want everyone in the world to be able to experience LatchOS. Our products and services are not exclusive to one type of building or asset class. We believe our technology should be accessible and affordable. Adding smart access devices to retrofits can get complicated, so we wanted to create something that was easier to install and a better solution for those customers. Secondly, some customers don’t like using keys at all—there’s a cost to keys and key management that they want eliminated. The C2 offers them a fully keyless experience.


What were the considerations behind making a manual thumbturn? 

Tim: We did extensive research on how to develop a user experience that was intuitive. So we created a thumbturn that can be locked from either side of the door without any prior credentialing or additional buttons needed. Plus, the manual thumbturn extends battery life. With a fully motorized lock, the motor is used every time that the door locks and unlocks. It can also jam if the door isn’t closed properly, which can shorten battery life and cause operational inefficiencies for building staff.

Dhruva: Designing this product was the result of working with major developers like Brookfield Properties and AvalonBay on hundreds of retrofit projects. We’ve set up LatchOS across a range of cities and building types. This enabled us to create an access device that addresses retrofit-specific concerns. The lock mechanism is a big part of that. 

I was talking to a customer of ours, and they wanted to know how we were thinking about battery life for our new products. A lot of the properties they manage are very spread out. If they have to roll a truck out or rely on the resident to change the batteries, it creates friction for them and adds cost. The C2 was built with longer battery life in mind from the start to eliminate those issues. 


How is the C2 different from other smart access devices?

Tim: There isn’t another product like this on the market, period. The C2 has functionality that other smart access devices simply don’t. We developed a product that can make an improved resident experience attainable for any building through LatchOS. Even with all the surrounding functionality, the C2 has 24 months of battery life. And if the battery fails, we’ve added in the ability to jumpstart it with a Qi power source. No feature should be at the expense of great battery life and longevity. 

Dhruva: It’s keyless and easier to install. It’s the most cost-effective product to bring all that LatchOS offers to your building. While it’s different from the locks that residents may be used to, people in my life who aren’t especially tech-savvy have instantly understood how to use it. It will be a change for existing residents, so ease of use and an intuitive design is always a priority.


Why is using a Qi power source to jumpstart the C2 to our customers’ benefit?

Tim: Qi is the wireless charging technology that is already available in many phones and devices. In the event of battery failure, you can use a Qi powerbank or two-way PowerShare phone to jumpstart the C2. 

There’s a great story behind the development of this feature. A Latch team member was traveling with her then fiancé when her phone died. Her fiancé’s phone had PowerShare, which got her thinking about how the Qi technology behind PowerShare could be used to jumpstart a dead lock. She created a demo in two days at a hackathon with some other engineers from her team. 

I’m excited because I think that Qi will be the standard for powering dead devices in the next five years. When you’re buying a system for your building, you want to buy something that’s truly future-proof, and that’s where Latch’s technological innovation really shines.


What market need does the C2 fill? 

Tim: Retrofits are skeptical of smart deadbolts. By making the design about the imperfect door, we’re offering a product that enables retrofits to confidently upgrade to smart access. While they are willing to pay for the lock, if they have to redo the door frame or adjust the door, it becomes a heavy investment. The C2 solves this problem because it can be put right in without any additional costs. 

Dhruva: A lot of people are moving away from cities like New York. The mortise won’t catch on in certain regions because doors are already prepped for deadbolt locks, and owners and operators likely won’t re-prep or replace the doors because of the associated cost. With the C2, there’s no need to do that or to add any extra wiring or infrastructure. It’s much easier to install. The C2 allows us to follow our customers that are moving to smaller cities and give them a better access solution that also connects them to LatchOS.


The C2 is smaller and uses less materials. How was sustainability a factor in the product design?

Tim: In the consumer electronics industry, making products disposable is traditionally good for business. A product with a relatively short lifespan can drive sales through a refresh cycle, which is bad for the environment. We don’t operate according to that framework. We want to be more conscious of what we’re putting out into the world. At Latch, we value responsible product design, which aligns well with our business goals. The longer your smart access device lasts, the better it is for us, the property, and the environment. Our goal isn’t to inflate our hardware margins—it’s to increase our customers’ NOI.

Using everything we’ve learned, we streamlined what we needed to do with the C2, and only put in what we needed for the experience. That allowed us to drastically reduce the amount of plastic, electronics, and metal that goes into every product to make it better for everybody


What excites you most about C2?

Dhruva: It’s always exciting when you launch a new product that lets you expand the scope of your customer base. There’s a whole new cohort of people who get to experience LatchOS. 

We can add new, fun experiences for a customer base that we may not have interacted with prior to C2. 

Tim: I’m excited in a similar vein. People will say things like, “Oh, this property has tech-savvy residents so it will be a good fit for LatchOS.” Latch should be for everybody! This device is intuitive, easy to install, and good for retrofits. It’s not just for giant, Class A buildings in large cities. It’s for any multifamily building whether it’s in an urban, suburban, or rural setting.


What’s next for Latch’s product organization?

Tim: The C2 has opened doors—no pun intended—into new markets. We’ve already done hundreds of retrofits with hundreds of owners and operators in 25+ states, but now, with the C2, we can quickly scale our retrofit capabilities. Growing that customer segment will introduce all sorts of new things. Some smaller cities are much more cost-conscious because of lower rents, but have equal fixed costs as larger markets. The C2 allows us to run into those markets and answer questions that we haven’t yet. 

Latch has always had dual goals: increase NOI for owners and operators by increasing amenities and by reducing operational inefficiencies.  Key management is both costly and time-consuming. Software systems for key management can cost thousands of dollars. A visit from a locksmith to rekey or replace a lock can cost between $85-$115. That adds up. With C2, we’re confronting the key management problem to streamline operations while also improving the resident experience. 

We’ve learned a lot and put it into this product. For our next phase, the locks should fade into the background. Our goal is to make buildings of all ages better places to live, work, and visit with the entire LatchOS ecosystem. It goes beyond smart access. It’s about empowering managers and residents with increased efficiency and an improved living experience. 

Interested in bringing Latch to your building? Contact our Sales team today.