People often talk about channels when they speak of the security industry. There is the locksmith distributor channel, the builders hardware channel and the big box channel to name just a few. Our locksmith channel has been narrow, vertical and limited to locksmiths for many years. Keys and mechanical security hardware form the basis for everything we serviced. Our channel has become widened and complicated in recent years as electronics blur the line between mechanical locks and the added features that the public now expects from their security hardware.
In an effort to better understand newly emerging technologies, I visited the CEDIA convention in Indianapolis last week. CEDIA is an acronym for Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association. Basically CEDIA members install residential home automation systems which can remotely control items such as lights, temperature, motorized window shades, audio/video systems, vacuum systems, CCTV cameras, alarms and door locks.
Most of the items listed above have always been manually operated by walking over to the source and flipping a switch, turning a knob or pulling a cord. While walking the huge convention floor and stopping at dozens of booths to ask questions, I tried to understand whether the products being offered had any merit for locksmiths. Especially in this economy, it appears that many of the products at CEDIA will appeal mostly to wealthy homeowners who demand the ultimate show-off items for their residences.
This is not to condemn every exhibit at CEDIA. Items such as alarms, CCTV and electronic door locks do have a place and in my opinion will become mainstream residential items in the not-too-distant future. In order to operate a mechanical lockset, the user must access their key. As more people obtain smart phones, unlocking by cell phone will be a normal advancement and not a luxury.
Both Yale and Kwikset radio-controlled deadbolt locks were on display at CEDIA. APPS on cell phones or I-Pads can access a gateway in the home which will then unlock the deadbolt. Simplicikey displayed a deadbolt operated by a remote and EkeyUSA had a biometric system which could be used to unlock doors or alarms.
Not every product at CEDIA was a good fit for locksmiths currently but the direction of the future is clear. The public is looking for more ways to control their environment and keep it secure. In order to stay meaningful, we must learn about and offer these new alternatives to our customers.