Although the access control market historically has been slow to adapt to larger tech trends that affect other product segments across the security industry, the past decade has ushered in a new era in how end users think about and deploy these solutions. From the proliferation of cloud-based management systems to the use of mobile phones as credentials, how people enter secure facilities has been changed fundamentally by technology evolution.
However, one of the biggest challenges for those who seek to take advantage of the benefits provided by these newer solutions is how to make such a migration without ripping and replacing all their existing infrastructure. Industry startup Oloid, which made its market debut in 2019, seeks to change that by offering readers that use updated modalities, such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and facial recognition, which can seamlessly integrate with existing systems.
SecurityInfoWatch.com (SIW) recently met with Mohit Garg, the company’s cofounder and CEO, ahead of GSX 2022 to discuss what separates the company from similar firms in the market and why the industry has to change its hardware-centric mindset.
SIW: When did you launch your first product, and what sort of traction has it received?
Garg: In 2020, the first product we launched was a facial-recognition-based access product. We call it the Software Reader, and it’s an app on a standard tablet or a smartphone. The Reader has Wiegand connections, so it basically can be mounted on a door and operate like a badge reader, but instead of reading a badge, it reads a person’s face. We have more than 70,000 users on that platform.
That’s a platform we’re taking to the market, with the focus being on large employers of hourly workers. An example would be a company such as Flex, which is the third-largest contract manufacturer. They have more than 45,000 users under one roof who use our facial recognition-based access product, and it integrates with turnstiles, doors and all kinds of access control systems.
SIW: What would you say differentiates you in the marketplace?
Garg: The big differentiation is that we are a retrofit product, which means that if someone has HID on their door and Honeywell in their closet, they don’t have to rip it out. We don’t require customers to do that to take full advantage of cloud-based access and remote management, along with front-end modernization with Bluetooth, mobile app-based access. The whole idea from the beginning has been to play with the existing players, partner with them and integrate, as opposed to competing with them, so we are synergistic with HID, Honeywell, Genetec, etc.
SIW: What do you believe will be some of your biggest challenges in entering what’s a relatively established market?
Garg: Our offering seems to be too good to be true sometimes, because customers expect to pay a hardware installer to come in and do wiring. And when we say, “no wiring,” they’re like, “Is this magic?” So, it’s just sort of the industry’s existing pattern of buying through physical installers and then moving to more SaaS-type buying, where you sign a software service contract and not have to deploy new hardware and wiring. It’s a mindset shift we have to think about.
I come from more of a SaaS mentality, and we’re bringing SaaS to a hardware-centric world. We have to change that mindset and make hardware more like plumbing, a commodity, and move all of the intelligence to software, so we have a lot more education to do as to why that makes more sense.
SIW: Where do you believe current access control solutions fall short?
Garg: If someone deployed a Bluetooth-based product in the past, let’s say, 3–5 years, for them to adopt NFC, they would have to replace the reader again. They will have to throw away what they have bought recently, because it doesn’t have the right NFC hardware. It doesn’t have the firmware that’s necessary for NFC. So the whole industry has been subjected to reliance on hardware upgrades to get new functionality. Only a movement to a software-centric approach where you can upgrade easily without replacing hardware or expensive hardware upgrades is the way to go. That’s our vision for the industry. That’s how we will ensure there’s PACS innovation and bringing new technology to the market faster. Other industries do generational shifts of technology in five years, but access control because of hardware dependence goes multiple decades on the same generation of technology.