It doesn’t seem that long ago that customers wanted magnetic stripe badges instead of keys or pushbuttons. Then, they wanted contactless proximity cards soon to be followed by smart cards. Just as we were catching on them, they started asking about using their mobile phones as credentials. No, not the old Motorola “brick” or the flip phone that also took pictures. Not even the ordinary (if there is such a thing) smartphone. Now many customers are talking about smartphones that provide Near Field Communication (NFC). For those of you who have recently attended an ASIS or ISC West exhibition, you probably saw some of these demonstrated.
For those not familiar with the technology, NFC provides simplified transactions, data exchange and wireless connections between two devices that are in close proximity to each other, usually by no more than a few inches. (You may have seen the Samsung Galaxy commercial where two phones touch and share pictures or videos.) Many smartphones currently on the market already contain embedded NFC chips that can send encrypted data a short distance (“near field”) to a reader. NFC technology is being added to a growing number of mobile devices.
Allegion’s aptiQmobile™ web-based key management system allows NFC-enabled smartphones to grant access to buildings or to be used on a college campus in the residence hall. With aptiQmobile, you can also use your phone for other application where ID badges are currently used as forms of closed-loop payments such as laundry or for meal plans. To turn an NFC-enabled smartphone into an access control credential users simply downloads the aptiQmobile app to their smart phone. Then, their access control administrator uses the aptiQmobile cloud service to send a secure mobile credential directly to the user’s phone. Once the mobile credential is downloaded, users open the app and tap their smart phone to the reader in the same way they use an ID card.
Installing a multi-credential reader at every new door means you are able to help your customer flexibly plan for the future. If the multi-technology readers you select work with magnetic stripe cards, proximity cards, smart cards and NFC-enabled smartphones, they give your customer a migration path to the future. When your customers change credentials (and they will), they won’t have to also change readers. If fact, they can even use their current card while migrating to their new credential – smart card or smartphone – at their own pace.
That’s right, during the transition they can use both their old credential and the new smart credential, card or phone. They can upgrade on their preferred timelines, not due to the whim of technology that forces a “now or never” alternative. As the installer, that takes the pressure off you and gives the facility lots of options.
NFC is coming and it is all the buzz in the technology press. Some customers will absolutely want it, so take advantage of all the information currently available to learn as much as you can so that you are ready too. And don’t forget about multi-technology readers in your current installations, even if customers are not considering NFC today. You can help them be ready when it’s time to migrate to upgraded credentials.
Jeremy Earles is Allegion Portfolio Manager, Readers and Credentials