Every networked lock installation is unique. The end user will have specific wants and requirements for their locks. Having the proper software is important. Some lock manufacturers use “open architecture” locks that are not proprietary (limited to a specific manufacturers software). Schlage, for example has electromechanical locks that are both open architecture and proprietary. In addition, Schlage offers software that is designed to operate their open architecture locks, giving the locksmith and end-user choices. However, with open architecture locks there are few choices of pre-packaged third party software available. Most third party software will be custom written for your application.
For residential applications, the Schlage LiNK, Kwikset SmartCode® and other lock makers have developed interoperability with home automation equipment including cameras, heating air conditioning, lighting etc. In addition to these features, some locks can notify the owner at what time a specific User Code gained access.
Going beyond networkability, there are lock manufacturers that are beginning to figure out ways for homeowners to better communicate with their locks. Several lock manufacturers are experimenting with social network services and applications to communicate with an electromechanical lock in order to give someone access, make sure the lock is locked, determine who is in the home, etc.
One of the most important and positive electromechanical lock trends is easier programming. Touch screens, voice activated programming and simple commands are replacing “watch the red, yellow and green LEDs and be sure to count the blinks” style of programming. Networked locks are even easier as some of the PC based operating software is becoming more intuitive.
At the present time, only 10 percent of commercial applications use electromechanical locks. The functionality of new products that will become available is amazing. This is a good opportunity for locksmiths to become involved with new technology without having to be a computer programmer, electrician or electronics expert.
With the newer electromechanical locks requiring less power and batteries having increased capacity, there is little need for having to run hardwired power or Ethernet cables. Most of the wireless networked lock manufacturers have available or can recommend the necessary equipment required to setup a network.
Electromechanical locks will become more compatible with other methods of security including sensors and CCTV. Improved sensors will speed entry into facilities dramatically resolving reader issues. Enabling companies to make certain who is entering is who is supposed to be entering.
Most of the networked electromechanical locks have battery condition as part of the operating software. As the batteries in a lock begin to reach replacement, the software can usually notify this condition.
As electromechanical locks continue to evolve, remotes (regular and protected, such as fingerprint ID fobs) will eliminate the need to enter a code in order to gain access. Use of a “Smart phone” will eventually become part of institutional, commercial and residential electromechanical locks. As these phones become more capable, there is good reason for them to become the replacement for providing access, maintaining security and even operating your vehicles.
One important consideration is that more time is required to install an electromechanical lock than to install a mechanical lock. In additional to the time required to prep the door and install the lock, you need to consider the time required to program the lock.
There is an amazing future for the electromechanical lock and communication technology. Relatively soon, you will be able to sell a door lock that will contact you when someone wants to gain access, provide you with streaming video of the person and the surrounding area. Upon approval, pressing a button will not only unlock the door lock, but also turn off the alarm system and lock or unlock interior doors providing the necessary access. Once the person is in the house, the closed circuit television cameras will monitor and record their movements until they leave, deadbolting the exiting door.