Aug 8, 2013 · 2 minutes

I'd only had my mail key for a few days when I lost it somewhere between my apartment, the Rite Aid down the street, and whichever parallel dimension plays host to the poltergeists that move and steal small objects for their own twisted amusement. A few peeks under the couch, a few days of cajoling our landlord, and a few dollars later my fiancée and I managed to make a copy, which was promptly attached to her keyring and kept from my klutzy hands. (I still blame the poltergeists.)

KeyMe is today launching an iPhone app meant to lessen the pain of replacing lost keys, extra-dimensional creatures be damned. The app allows you to take a picture of your key, save it to the cloud, and then order a replacement or provide instructions to a key-maker if the real thing is lost. You can save an unlimited number of keys to the service for free -- you only pay when you need to bring a key out of the company's servers and back into your pocket.

The release of KeyMe's iPhone app follows the debut of its physical kiosks, which allow people who live near one of the 7-Eleven locations in which the device is installed to scan and duplicate their keys, no iPhone required. KeyMe founder Greg Marsh says that the company's goal is to bring these kiosks to more locations -- they're currently available only in Manhattan -- as it scales, but the iPhone app should allow it to grow without relying on retail partners and costly hardware roll-outs.

KeyMe's launch comes just months after a slew of companies like August, Lockitron, and Goji announced that they're going to try and replace your physical locks and keys with digital counterparts. A surprising number of startups are trying to replace your keys in a permanent, let's-"disrupt"-something way -- KeyMe is sticking with conventional meaning and simply making it easier to replace lost keys, and Marsh says that's no mistake.

"We think keys are going to be around for a very long time. There are 600 million keys made every year in the US," Marsh says. "For that market to go away… keys work pretty well, and there's no incentive for a building manager to spend a million bucks to retrofit his building with expensive hardware." Keys have persisted for thousands of years, and it's unlikely that they'll be replaced soon enough to ruin KeyMe's business.

[Featured image courtesy Jillian Anne Photography]