Advances in Smartphone Technology

Oct. 2, 2017
The smartphone connection can eliminate the keypads, card readers and wiring that typically go with access control systems. as well as simplify video surveillance and even generate RMR

There has never been a time in human history when nearly everything that defines us as individuals could be contained within a single solid-state chip. Professionals in finance and security believe that the smartphone itself holds the most promise as a personal, mobile means of identification. Smartphones also provide a means of storing critical data, enabling credentialed communications, not to mention the storage of personal information including one’s medical history and a digital purse.

According to Statistica of New York, NY, the portal for statistics, more than 2.81 billion smartphone users are expected worldwide by 2020. By the end of this year, that number is expected to reach 2.32 billion and 2.71 billion by 2019 ( Clearly the smartphone is the best choice as a trusted means of identification in nearly all aspects related to financial and general security use.

In this story we'll discuss why smartphones are good for locksmiths and their security customers. We’ll talk about what kinds of services these mobile devices lend themselves to, why they’re an attractive choice for verification of identity, and how smartphones provide security. We’ll also look at several areas within the security business where you, as a professional locksmith, can earn additional RMR (Recurring Monthly Revenue), also referred to as Recurring Revenue (RR)—as discussed in the ‘Value Predictive Recurring Revenue’ article published in Locksmith Ledger’s July issue--using the client’s smartphone to do it.

Also featured in this article is a sidebar entitled ‘Direct Marketing Via Local Cellular Technology.’ It offers detailed information on an easy way to market your products and services to others using proximity cellular technology.

Smartphones As Credential

Within a typical smartphone lurks the potential for finger and voice prints, facial templates, and the necessary data storage for financial information, login information, medical history, and more. In fact, when you purchase the service for a new smartphone, your identity is verified by the cellular carrier as well as the bank that you and/or the cellular provider works with. Just to have and own a cell phone of any kind, your identity is verified.

 “Smartphone technology used with locking devices transitions a credential into a management tool,” says Joey Dalessio with Codelocks of Irvine, CA. “Smartphones are used to operate locking devices and they create the potential for accountability, taking safety and security to a higher level than a key, card or code control alone” (

Because of all the above, your smartphone is an almost ideal human interface for general security purposes. Examples of where these devices can be used to facilitate security include residential doors, security systems, and commercial access control. In fact, one day in the foreseeable future we’ll be able to start an automobile simply because our smartphone happens to be in our pocket or purse, or we’ve laid it on the seat or the console next to us.

Recently the use of a fingerprint reader allows the owner of the phone to log in and access the features of the phone. This assures that if the phone in question were to be lost, no one can use it other than the owner who has the right fingerprint to unlock it. In time, your facial features will be used to log in, then your eye--either your retina or iris.

Smart Homes and Security Systems

One of the first applications where smartphones and other mobile devices found a use, aside from the usual, was in general door security. For locksmiths, electronic locksets are a great point of entry into the world of smartphone integration. Your clients that want to increase the level of protection in their homes and/or businesses can usually be sold on the idea of installing electronic locks in place of their older mechanical ones. The great thing about this is that many of these new electronic locks will work with almost every smartphone on the market.

You also can upgrade clients to a managed service where the programming of these locks is performed off site at your own office using the Internet. Not only can this be done using a desktop or laptop at your office, but it also can be performed from anywhere using a simple smartphone equipped with the right app.  

 “I sell our access control clients on managed service where I can make changes to their system using my personal smartphone,” says Steve Norch, president of Bierly-Litman Lock & Door of Canton, Ohio. “I can be anywhere and make additions, deletions, or general programming changes using a special app I loaded into my smartphone some time ago. It works great and I make additional money doing it” (

Additional Uses for Smartphones

Another use for smartphones is in the control of your clients’ alarm systems. Your clients can arm or disarm the system, partially arm, lock or unlock the doors, as well as invoke a panic alarm, medical alarm, etc. Also, most of these modern day systems are wireless. This makes installation relatively quick and easy. Many of these systems can be programmed using a smartphone as well, a tablet, or a laptop as oppose to using one of the system keypads.   

 “Short of the screwdriver, I cannot think of a more versatile tool for our [security] industry than the smart phone/tablet. Not only is it the interface to almost all of our devices and controllers, it allows our customers to manage simple-to-moderate tasks as we allow it. It assists with programming and onsite/offsite service,” says Greg Peninger, former President of ProTex Technologies of Austin, TX. “In addition, we ourselves are able to manage our employees, time tracking, scheduling, ticketing, inventory tracking, fleet maintenance, and invoicing and customer relationship management all from that small touchscreen.”

As mentioned before, smartphones can be used with larger access control systems. In fact, because of the smartphone connection, it’s possible to totally eliminate all the keypads, card readers, and wiring that typically go with it.

 “Our Scan Pass provides access without any kind of car reader, cards, fobs, door controllers and the wiring of such. With the Scan Pass all the technician has to do is install a bar code sticker on the outside of each door,” says Mike Simon, CEO of Connected Technologies of Crystal Lake, IL. Using WiFi or some other technology, the smartphone scans the barcode sticker on the door, causing the system to lock that specific door, providing the user is approved for that door at that time of day (

Peninger says that with the power of today’s mobile devices someone could start and actually run a successful company with some small tools and a handheld device. Peninger says that “All of your marketing, customer interaction, accounting, and fulfillment effectively executed with a device that fits in your pocket. The future is at our fingertips.”

Another area where Peninger has experience with smartphones is that of automated marketing ( Here a small cellular transmitter can be used to send non-invasive advertisements to all the smartphones and tablets in a 100 yard radius. See the sidebar on page ## for more information on how you can put this captivating advertising method to work for you.

Smartphones and Video Surveillance

Another profit-oriented offering for your client’s smartphone use is that of video from one or more cameras situated in a home or an office in a SMB (Small to Midsize Business) facility. At the low end, you can sell your client a web camera that comes with a handy app that when it sees motion, it sends one or more images to a smartphone, tablet, etc. Some cameras also can send an email to the client’s smartphone using a special app.

The web camera by itself will provide the warning your client needs. This will allow him or her to make a phone call to the local police department and/or to a close neighbor who might be able to identify the thief in the act. When used out of the box in this manner, there is no monthly fee. The manufacturer of this type of camera usually offers a subscription service where images will be saved in a computer server off site in a cloud environment. The advantage of this is retention after the event takes place.

Those who have a full size camera system also can subscribe to a similar service, only much more sophisticated. In this type of video surveillance/security system, video images are sent to the subscriber’s smartphone at the same time the alarm data is being sent to the CMS (Central Monitoring Station). If the subscriber, your client, wishes to cancel the alarm, there’s a soft button on their smartphone that they can press to negate any further action by the CMS. All of this is made possible by way of a special smartphone app that integrates with the CMS computer systems.

 “What SecureCom does is attach an alarm event in the cloud in our servers to the camera at the premises. At that point we can do various things with it,” says, Mark Hillenburg, executive director of marketing with DMP of Springfield, MO. “Not only can we send video verification to the central station, but we can push the alarm with live video and pre-alarm clips to the user’s app so the user can actually cancel or verify the alarm based on what they see in the video” (

In the case of Alarm.Com, a third-party provider for smart home, security and, both alarm and video data are routed to a cloud-based computer processing center where alarm signals and video images are forwarded to your client’s smartphone as well as the CMS ( The client also receives alarm data and images from the cloud service in order to evaluate the images for signs of familiar people so they can abort dispatch by pressing a soft button on their smartphone. What makes this different from DMP and others is the fact that all signals go to Alarm.Com first and from there they are pushed to the client as well as the CMS. Images are made available to the CMS by a link in the report.

Here’s a popular app as it relates to kids that come home from school before their parents leave the office. “When the alarm is disarmed, the system will trigger the video portion to send an email to the parents notifying them of the event,” says Tom Karl, director of sales at NAPCO of Amityville, NY. “A link in the email will allow them to see who else that might be with their children at the time they entered and disarmed the system” ( NAPCO offers access control technology, video surveillance, as well as electronic locks and alarm systems, all of which are designed to work together in a unified manner.

Typical managed services include SecureCom by DMP; Alarm.Com by Alarm.Com; Total Connect by Honeywell; iSee Video by Napco; Eagle Eye NuboCam and Eagle Eye Security Camera VMS, both by Eagle Eye Networks; and i-View Now, to name only a few.

RMR Opportunities for Locksmiths

The good news for the savvy locksmith who enters this side of the security business is that all of this spells additional monthly revenue—called RMR (Recurring Monthly Revenue). This is an effective technology designed to provide a much needed service to your clients. Let’s put it this way: someone’s going to offer them this technology and it may as well be you.

In new or retrofit construction, don’t be so quick to walk away with all that money still sitting on the table. Get as much of it as you can when you can. The fact is, people are willing to pay for these additional services because it allows them to see what’s going on at home or in the office. So don’t apologize; rather be happy that you can give your clients what they want and make additional money doing it.

Perhaps the biggest question of all is how a locksmith is supposed to enter the high-tech world of the 21st Century without undergoing a lot of special training. First, you can enter this arena by partnering with established alarm companies either in your locale, in adjacent cities, or in another state if you must. Second, you can maintain these accounts with the help of a single technician whom you may wish to hire. You also can send your most promising technicians to factory schools to learn and to earn their needed certificates.

There’s also a number of great online learning centers where you can go to learn network technology when and if needed, such as Alison. Here you can take all the courses you want in networking and other subject matter for free. You pay for only the credentials required—as in relatively low-cost certificates of learning (

A vast number of locksmiths across the nation have stepped into the 21st Century by adopting the methods mentioned above. If they can do it, so can you. Locksmith Ledger is here to assist you as you make your way toward this goal.

If we had to identify the most important reason why you as a locksmith should enter the RMR market of high-tech security electronics, I’d say it involves your own retirement. When you go to sell your company, if you do not have a huge volume of RMR-based accounts—whether it is alarm monitoring, video and/or access managed services, or maintenance contracts, you will quickly find out just how little your business is worth. Having RMR equates to steady, dependable ROI (return on investment) that anyone shopping to buy a company like yours will want to see within y our business portfolio.

For questions regarding this article, or for further advice on how to enter the profitable world of the 21st Century, send an email to Al Colombo, author of this story, at [email protected].