The Smart Money: Beyond Access Control

July 11, 2022
How evolving and advanced features are enabling integrators to penetrate new verticals such as apartments, vacation rentals and more

This article originally appeared in the July 2022 issue of Security Business magazine. When sharing, don’t forget to mention Security Business magazine on LinkedIn and @SecBusinessMag on Twitter.

Smart door locks and smart access control systems provide a foundation for security by helping consumers and building owners/operators monitor and secure the primary access points. Technology solutions greatly benefit the end-user as well as the building owner and property management. This is particularly notable in the heavily invested area of technology solutions for apartments.

In addition to secure entry capabilities, smart door locks and smart access control systems also double as points of access for a future world of services. Companies are vying for control of access points into homes and buildings that enable service opportunities such as in-home, in-unit, and in-garage delivery, health and wellness solutions, cleaning and pet care services, home and unit rental solutions, and much more.

Expansion to new Verticals and Use-Cases

Traditional use-cases for smart door lock and access control systems include: Remote entrance access;  real-time electronic notifications of who is entering and leaving in real-time; assigning permanent and temporary virtual keys with access schedules for specific days and times; the ability to change or revoke access privileges at any time; and a trigger for tamper and forced entry alarms that warn of a possible break-in.

Shared goals and partnerships are also helping expand the market beyond traditional access control use-cases. Door lock manufacturers have established integrations with Airbnb and HomeAway reservation systems to enable home hosts to grant access to guests. OEMs are working with real estate developers (single family and multi-family) to include smart access solutions as a standard part of smart home packages and home control platforms. Parcel delivery services are integrating smart door locks and cameras to offer secure package delivery.

MDU (multi-dwelling unit) owners/operators value smart access control for security, convenience and OPEX savings. Properties want to grant access to units remotely for unaccompanied viewing, assist with package delivery, control who has access to units, and make key replacement more efficient.

Parks Associates research reveals that 73% of MDU properties with smart door locks use the devices to grant access to units remotely for unaccompanied viewings, package delivery, or third-party services.

Additionally, the majority use the locks to track who enters and leaves the property using temporary, unique access codes. In addition, MDU property managers report that their residents are demanding the ability to enable remote access to apartment units.

Product Capabilities: The Bleeding Edge

Many smart door lock and smart access control systems are several generations into their development, and features that once defined premium tiers are now integrated into basic models. Remote access, unique guest codes, personalized alerts, and integration with prevalent smart home and property management platforms are commonplace. Here are some of the more bleeding-edge capabilities coming to market:

Voice: Even voice control is becoming a standard feature, as a growing number of users leverage voice control for connected devices in the home. Consumers ranked lights, thermostats, door locks, smart TVs, and video cameras as the top five devices they would most like to control via voice assistant. Although some users express concern about using voice assistants to allow access to their properties, most integrations do not allow for voice-controlled unlock. Instead, voice assistants' capabilities are limited to restricting access, locking doors and arming systems.

It is now common for companies to integrate their devices with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Although integrations with Apple HomeKit lag behind the other two big voice assistants, most of the dominant players have already added Siri voice assistance to their door locks. To remain competitive, device manufacturers need to include voice control.

Power: Power consumption is an ever-present issue, with many connected home products – like smart door locks, smart smoke and CO detectors, Wi-Fi weight scales – relying on battery power. Battery power limits these products’ ability to support more robust networking protocols, and frequent battery replacement makes for a poor user experience. It also limits products’ ability to add new features or interfaces. For instance, smart door locks often include a traditional physical key option, as homeowners will not tolerate coming home to a door they cannot unlock because the battery has run down.

Advanced features: New sets of features are emerging that will define the premium tier of smart door lock and access control platforms going forward, including advancements in sensing, mechatronic functions, authentication technologies and communication protocols.

Supply Chain Challenges

Smart door lock solutions have seen steady growth in the past few years, but barriers impede wider and faster adoption. Among them is the current fragmented nature of the space and a supply chain that may not be conducive to future scale.

Smart access companies are constantly looking for incremental innovation, progress, and technology development that make products better year over year. A new market structure, relying on third-party suppliers, can help realize this progress without these companies have to heavily invest their own resources or take on the risks. Companies are capturing new value through innovative technology creating new applications with a clear and quantifiable ROI.

Adequate funding for investment in technology often requires companies to think more broadly about their value than for one particular segment of the business. The demands of new tech on processing, power, memory, security, and latency for real-time applications are driving companies to look to new ways to build products. Suppliers have an opportunity to better serve manufacturers by operating on a Tier-1 structure, which could provide a more systematic and cost-efficient approach for the development and release of the next generation of products.

Jennifer Kent is Vice President of Research for market research firm Parks Associates ( This is an excerpt from the Parks Associates new whitepaper, Smart Locks and Access Control Supply Chain: Scaling Innovation. Access the full whitepaper at