Trends--Smartphones: the New Access Credential

March 14, 2013
It's what your customer wants

More than 50 percent of the phones in the U.S. are now smartphones and outside our country that percentage is even higher. Even late adopters have recognized the power of these handheld devices and they are looking for more ways to use them. The functionality that smartphones offer have a permanent and almost immediate impact on the way we email, browse the Internet, access our contacts, travel, listen to music and create photos and videos. In the near future, smartphones will be your credit card (if it isn’t already). Among the vast capabilities of smartphones, your phone has the capacity to be your access control credential and security keypad. With that in mind, it is only natural that smartphones would revolutionize the access control industry. The impact of the smartphone on the industry will be faster and more dramatic than any previous technology for several reasons.

First, unlike past so-called technology innovations, smartphones are not stuck in the proprietary jail and are therefore far surpassing the growth of the access control industry. The growth of the access control industry has been inhibited by expensive, proprietary hardware technology like proximity cards and readers that aren’t compatible with all other cards and readers. That is not a technology limitation; it is the intention of the manufacturers to protect market share. Competition benefits the industry and the consumer, but because this competitive environment doesn’t exist within the industry, change is coming from outside the industry. Compare the somewhat sluggish growth of the security industry to the rapid growth of the smartphone. The smartphone industry offers an open environment that allows unrestricted, inexpensive, and easy development and invention of products on a wide variety of hardware platforms for a wide variety of uses. The smartphone environment has grown rapidly and continues to develop in terms of its applications.

Real world, real applications

Another reason smartphones will replace cards, fobs and keypads is simply that they are more convenient. End users and facility managers already have smartphones, and would prefer not to deal with cards and fobs that are expensive and difficult to manage. If you are walking into your building and talking on the phone, do you really want to stop, fumble for your proximity card and put it up against the reader? Or would you rather keep walking and let your phone open the door for you? Similarly, if you are pulling up to a gate, do you really want to have to roll down the window of your car and reach out to type a code on a keypad? Isn’t it more convenient to stay dry and comfortable and simply enter the code on your smartphone?

Unlike most technologies that require a lot of explaining, using smartphones as your access credential is a simple functionality that customers are already asking for. In the past, security companies invested a lot of resources educating customers on why a technology was good for them, or even how to use it. With smartphone access control systems, the customers are already educated on the functionalities and applications of smartphone and accept it as a natural and convenient solution to access control needs.

The list of advantages that smartphones offer over cards, fobs and keypads goes on and on. Aside from longer read range, simple visitor access, and ultra-low power consumption, the most important advantage is that it is what the customer wants. Smartphone access control technology is simply a matter of supply catching up with demand.