January is the official start of each new year but our business year really begins after two important conventions each spring. The first convention is the International Security Conference (ISC West) in mid-April. The second convention is the Security Hardware Distributors Association (SHDA) held in early May.
ISC is important because it provides a glimpse of what we can expect the security industry to be selling, servicing and installing in the future. There were more than 1,000 exhibitor displays at ISC. Exhibitors were showing everything from batteries to building barriers. Some of these products are honestly not in the locksmith category. It still took three convention days to walk the floor and interview companies with types of products which we can use today. Familiar companies such as Ingersoll Rand, ASSA ABLOY, DORMA and Kaba all had factory representatives available to answer questions.
Smaller, less noticeable booths are of equal interest to me. Here is where the starter companies with new ideas are located. As example, one company had a $99 unit which is the same size as a card reader. This product is mounted on the wall or door frame and is operated by a smart cell phone.
Cell phones may soon be the credential of choice instead of cards or keys. During a speech by HID, a major manufacturer of access control cards, the company CEO indicated that his company is working on making SIM cards for cell phones which will also contain HID information. The obvious conclusion is that people will carry a cell phone but may not want to carry an additional access control credential in the future.
SHDA exhibitors concentrate on products which are immediately available and can be sold today. Products such as keyless residential pushbutton locks, new transponder keys, automatic door openers and innovations in padlocks all took center stage. SHDA is a convention where distributors can meet with manufacturers and place orders for the coming year. SHDA graciously allows the ‘press’ each year to cover the event and also get firsthand information about the latest security products.
The state of our industry can be compared to auto lock security. It is changing rapidly. The new cars of today will be the used cars of tomorrow. As you impression a key today for a 2003 model, remember that in 10 years you will be working on old 2013 models which do not use a metal ignition key. Similarly, the ISC and SHDA conventions paint a perfect picture of what security is today and what it will be like in the near future.