Making the Switch to App-Driven Electronic Access Control

July 20, 2021
BEST to release the latest version of its smart cylinder in Switch Tech Kits.

For dormakaba company BEST, the switch has only just begun.

At ISC West 2020, BEST was ready to raise the curtain on its latest and greatest product, Switch Tech. Then COVID happened, and there was no show. Switch Tech was introduced via a virtual event at dormakaba’s Indianapolis headquarters.

Nearly a year and a half later, convention-goers were able to get their hands on the latest with respect to Switch Tech at ISC West 2021. The show was the first major in-person event in the security business in nearly two years.

Switch Tech is BEST’s wireless smart-cylinder technology. The foundation of the product is the Switch Core, a battery-powered small-format interchangeable core (SFIC) that can provide electronic access control (EAC) at any door where a mechanical SFIC is used in the lock. Retrofitting is a simple process of replacing the mechanical core, inserting the battery and setting up the lock through an app.

Since the 2020 introduction, however, Switch Tech has become a platform, and the latest product to reach the market is the Switch Kit, which was announced in summer 2020 but finally is about to reach the market.

The Switch Kit consists of five Switch Cores, five fobs and five mobile credentials, along with a battery tool to pop the cap on the Switch Core and replace the battery when necessary. (The CR2077 lithium battery, which can be bought anywhere like other batteries, is expected to last two years with normal use.) The Switch Kit is aimed at facilities that want to introduce EAC on a smaller scale or expand an existing EAC system inexpensively.

But it also is aimed at locksmiths and security pros who want to “get their feet wet” with regard to installing EAC without having to worry about wiring, says Dan Stewart, technical business development lead at dormakaba Americas. “Locksmiths have the opportunity to see, ‘this electronic access control isn’t that bad. I’ll continue to grow and deal with it,’” he says.

System Changes

Originally, Switch Tech was integrated with EAC software providers Lenel and Genetec to deliver access control and audit trails of activity, but Switch Kit is completely app-driven for further ease of use. A virtual demonstration before ISC West shows an intuitive app that has four primary screens: dashboard, keys, doors and schedules. The dashboard includes admin information and alerts to firmware updates; keys shows to whom credentials can be assigned; doors show what activity has taken place at each door where a Switch Core has been installed; and schedules shows who has what access where and when.

The app allows a system administrator to change access schedules and credential assignment quickly while monitoring audit trails and even battery levels, Stewart says, by using the cloud for the communication and delivery of the information to the mobile device.

That’s where Switch Tech is now. What’s next? It should come as no surprise that BEST is working on bringing large-format interchangeable cores into the Switch realm as well as taking the entire platform outside.

“Our Ilco team is working on a Switch cylinder that will be weatherproof, so it can go on the perimeter of a building,” Stewart says. (Ilco is another division of dormakaba.) He adds that Ilco is targeting IP65 durability for the cylinder, so it would allow it to be outdoors, year-round, on even an application such as a pool gate. The only limit would be the battery and its capability to handle extreme temperatures, Stewart adds, which is typical of battery-powered locks of all types.

Another facet of the Ilco cylinder would be what Stewart calls “return to home” functionality so Switch Tech could be used in mortise locks or deadbolts.

“The Ilco team told me not to commit to any dates,” Stewart jokes when speculating on when these new Switch cylinders might appear but adds that he believes they could arrive in 2022.

More info: