“A World Without Keys”: Singapore-founded smart access company, igloo, launches the First Smart Padlock to Reach Space

By Anthony Chow | August 25, 2023

SINGAPORE, Singapore August 14, 2023 A brief history of locks and keys. The need to secure the things we hold dear dates as far back as 6,000 years ago in Ancient Assyria (modern-day Syria and Iraq), where early evidence of the first locks and keys was discovered. This precipitated the invention of the first metal locks and keys in Ancient Rome (6th century BC), and the lock and key mechanism reached widespread adoption thanks to the standardisation of precision engineering and manufacturing during the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century.

That, however, is where much of the category’s innovation slowed. The locks and keys in many homes today are not dissimilar to what was seen in homes in the early 1800s.

The Sharing Economy has rendered the old lock format insufficient

With the boom in the Sharing Economy from short-term rental homes to car-sharing, for example – the legacy of the physical key has rapidly become a dated and insufficient means to secure and access spaces.

  • In 2015, Anthony Chow, igloo’s co-founder and CEO, was himself a busy Airbnb host and experienced first-hand the frustrating inefficiencies of physical key exchanges. As such, igloo was born, and the company set out on a mission to build a World Without Keys.

  • Beyond the Sharing Economy: Eight years later, igloo and its smart access technology - both hardware and software - has lived up to its mission of changing what it means to ‘secure and access’. Their smart locks and devices can be found in more than 300,000 homes and businesses across the globe, and the company has partnered with more than 1,500 businesses, including Airbnb, Uber, ShowingTime (part of Zillow), and can be found with ecommerce and retail partners such as Home Depot, Walmart, Lowes, BestBuy, and Staples.

"We started igloo with the mission to solve what we saw as an important but complex problem in the Sharing Economy. However, we quickly found that the problem exists even beyond this category. Today, our solutions are changing the way businesses operate: property portfolio managers, large-scale infrastructure, schools, gyms, distribution centres, assisted living initiatives, and even golf courses. The market traction we experienced when we launched igloo made it very clear: the world is moving on from physical keys - not just out of a desire for something modern and more connected, but out of sheer necessity. Physical keys are becoming obsolete."

- Anthony Chow, CEO & Co-founder, igloo.


igoo Co-founders, Anthony Chow and Kelvin Ho

From Ancient Rome to the Stratosphere: The first smart padlock to reach space

Having been at the forefront of smart access innovation for close to a decade, igloo has celebrated its milestone 8-year birthday by boldly putting its signature smart padlock to the ultimate test.

On August 9, 2023, igloo successfully launched eight of its Smart Padlock 2 Space Edition into the notoriously uninhabitable environment of space, becoming the world’s first smart padlock to ever do so.

To demonstrate the reliability and robustness of its Smart Padlock 2 Space Edition, igloo’s space launch consisted of three durability tests:

  1. The ability to withstand the ascent to space

  2. The ability to function at peak altitude in space

  3. The ability to withstand the descent to earth in working condition

Secured to a bespoke launch vehicle and suspended by a high-altitude hydrogen balloon, igloo’s eight padlocks ascended 33 kilometres above sea level (for context: a passenger aircraft reaches a maximum altitude of 11 kilometres).

smart digital lock

As the balloon scaled to peak altitude, where temperatures reached up to -65°C and 0.0618 atm (atmospheric pressure), igloo successfully achieved the mission’s second durability test, demonstrating the padlock’s ability to function even at peak altitude.

smart digital lock

Finally upon its return to Earth's surface, the padlocks are demonstrated to be functioning well. They had triumphantly endured the heart-stopping 33 kilometres descent to the ground via a controlled speed of 4.5 metres per second – roughly half the velocity of a free-falling object.

A ‘stratospherically’ smart padlock.

In celebration of its successful space launch and 8th birthday, igloo has produced a limited run of 88 serialised Smart Padlock 2 Space Edition: the first smart padlock to reach space.

In building a smart padlock to operate in space, igloo iterated more than 500 prototypes, designing it

in line with seven MIL-STD 810H reliability standards to create the toughest smart padlock in the world. The process of producing such a padlock required a multitude of different reliability tests, including rain, shock and heat.

The igloo smart padlock we see today can withstand extreme temperatures and pressure differentials and has been tested in extreme cold weather temperatures in parts of Canada and the Nordics, as well as in extreme heat conditions in the Middle East.

Get your hands on one of only 88 limited edition Space Padlocks and Keyboxes here.

“We are honoured to be celebrating igloo’s eighth birthday by becoming the world’s first smart padlock to reach space. Our padlocks’ journey to space is, to me, the perfect metaphor for the journey we’ve been on as a company: we’ve withstood the test of difficult conditions (the challenges of the pandemic, for example) and ascended to great heights in spite of it. We’re excited about what the future holds and grateful for the support we’ve received from our business partners, customers and shareholders. To our team, igloohomies all around the world, the sky is no longer the limit, it is only the beginning.”

- Anthony Chow, CEO & Co-founder, igloo.

“Enterprise Singapore has been working closely with igloo since its early days to support its growth journey. We are proud to witness igloo’s expansion abroad – from setting up an office in the USA, to building a global presence with products sold in over 100 countries. We are committed to supporting more innovative Singapore companies to compete and succeed on the world stage.”

- Soh Leng Wan, Assistant CEO (Manufacturing & Engineering), Enterprise Singapore

“It’s been a privilege partnering with igloo and its dynamic, talented, and ambitious team as they expand in North America. Since its launch eight years ago, igloo has established a remarkable presence in the U.S. market and we are proud they have made Austin their North American headquarters. Today, igloo is in over 300,000 homes and businesses and is found in retailers such as Lowes and Walmart. It comes as no surprise that the igloo team have set themselves the challenge of becoming the world’s first smart padlock to reach space. I’m excited for what’s ahead on the igloo roadmap as they continue to lead the charge in bringing innovation to the smart access space. Congratulations, igloo!”

- Roland Peña, SVP of Global Technology & Innovation, Opportunity Austin

About igloo:

Founded by Anthony Chow and Kelvin Ho, igloo is a leading smart access technology company that designs and manufactures smart locks and IoT devices with a holistic enterprise software ecosystem.

Initially established under the name igloohome, the company set out to create “a world without keys,” quickly establishing partnerships with companies like Airbnb to provide solutions for short-term rentals and vacation rental properties. The company and its team have grown to include an enterprise-focused vertical, iglooworks, which caters to large-scale access management and a multitude of industries like property management and facilities management. igloo is headquartered in Singapore with 100 employees and 8 regional offices worldwide, with its North America headquarters in Austin, Texas. For more information and to learn more about igloo, visit https://www.igloocompany.co.

Socials: #UnlockSpace


Media Contact:

Anthony Chow
CEO and Co-founder

About the Author


Anthony Chow

CEO and Co-founder