Technology at the Door

Emerging technologies require leadership and critical thought

How can manufacturers best position themselves for innovation in the security industry? In terms of emerging technologies, it might seem obvious to say that a best practice would be to stay abreast of as many cutting edge technologies as possible, and implement solutions alongside of—or integrated with—these advancements. However, with this approach, there is a risk of just following the lead of the marketplace. Some may call it merely “treading water,” and in reality, many manufacturers fall behind.

Advancements in emerging technologies require leadership, critical thought about the future, and a willingness to take risks. Stretching oneself to integrate with new technologies is critical, of course, but the true promise of innovation is offering new solutions to the market.

The ultimate goal of new solutions is to meet customer needs in the very best way possible. That requires asking ourselves, as a manufacturer, integrator or other security provider, are we providing technology just for technology’s sake, or is this providing the best value for the customer? Are we making things more effective, affordable, and intuitive? Are we eliminating pain points? Are we addressing new openings that we couldn’t secure in the past?

Are we better protecting the people and places that matter most?

With that in mind, let’s explore a few emerging technologies that may soon provide additional value in the access control and door security solution verticals.

Energy Efficiency

Integrating solar technology into all types of security devices has become more and more common over the years. However, there is some customer expectation that with solar comes a large array of panels that take a long time to gain a return on the investment. Or, more common, is the idea that solar works only in particular, outdoor environments. The reality is that we are on the verge of seeing small-formfactor solar panels that can leverage interior energy harvesting so the device pulls not only from the sun, but also from interior lighting.

Consider the ramifications of this technology for just a moment.

Wireless access control solutions currently offer a substantial savings in time and money for integrators and building owners as they drastically reduce the need to run cabling. Wireless solutions often don’t require a site survey, and can simply be installed on a door on a first visit. The drawback to this technology, for some building owners, has always been the maintenance associated with changing batteries. While batteries have drastically improved, some with the ability to last years before needing a change, the idea that solar power can be harvested both indoors and outdoors to extend battery life would significantly alter the value proposition of these products.

What makes this even more exciting is that this is a technology that will soon be commercially available. It has the potential to drastically change the cost, maintenance, and operations of businesses. Further, it can quickly be integrated into existing technologies (such as wireless locks) to quickly provide new solutions.

Along the same lines of thinking about how we can rethink reduction in energy consumption is the use of kinetic energy. While a door opener can currently be powered for one automatic push after four manual openings have occurred, we continue to look at ways to make that closer to one auto push for every one manual opening. Thinking more radically, we can investigate ways to power electronic cylinders just through the motion of inserting a key into a lock. Can we potentially build a small enough motor that harvests this energy? If so, what other applications could use it?

There are several considerations related to power that will provide new and exciting emerging technologies. Reducing cost and complexity of operating openings while providing robust security will continue to be the primary objective in any innovation.

Augmented Reality

As much as we like to dream about potential solutions, we also need to make sure we are providing a practical approach in the short term with some of our offerings. In terms of augmented reality, we see both short-term and long-term applications in the space for doors and openings, as well as all security products used by integrators.

Short term usage of this technology is likely to dovetail into the mobile space. Support applications on mobile devices can utilize cameras to provide live feeds during installation and troubleshooting. From there, support technicians can overlay augmented reality instructions and diagrams in real time. This is an application that doesn’t require augmented reality glasses, which are still uncommonly used.

It is worthwhile to position offerings for a future where such glasses do become normalized. One idea in this space, for both manufacturers and integrators, is to provide live on-site specification and selection of openings, hardware, or other offerings through the use of live augmented reality overlays on the shell of a building. Imagine the ability to see what a product will look like while standing within the construction zone, adding that product to the order, and proceeding with the purchase directly after the site visit. It’s a future application, yet it is definitely possible to offer end-users that level of flexibility and variety in selection.

Mobile Applications

As mentioned above, using mobile applications can be critical for an end user or integrator in an installation or troubleshooting scenario. However, for the most part, mobile has long been built out for the end user. Innovation in this space has largely focused on ease of use, simplicity in getting access to support staff, and quick delivery of instructions.

Mobile apps might soon see a more tailored approach directly for the integrator audience. Consider mobile apps or mobile devices that work as an integration programming tool. A scenario might be as simple as allowing an integrator to install all the locks in a building first, then to walk around the building and tap the mobile device to each access control device for a setup that works immediately and is customizable in real time. Eliminating the need to preset locks before the installation would be a huge benefit to this channel.

Using Learned Information

Perhaps the least developed space in the security market is the area that is most primed for near-term growth: the utilization of information. The true sign that we have matured in this space will be when we move from automation of systems to autonomy: allowing machine learning to alter settings based on what it “knows” is expected and needed.

The industry has recently begun to build out analytics for all of the data that has been created and this creates the potential for artificial intelligence (AI). While we see AI deployed in language processing for service and support bots, we need to find ways to use this intelligence in appropriate places. We never want to lose that humanto- human interaction, but if an answer is as simple as calling out to a home assistant, then we want to make sure the answers are available.

Finally, the industry should be looking for ways to more closely integrate this information with the architects, designers and specifiers of the world. Providing the proper amount of integration with Building Information Modeling software is critical to getting security planned out appropriately from Step One in the design process.


To conclude, the final piece of the puzzle in innovating around emerging technologies is to develop partnerships that leverage a core competency with complementary knowledge.

For manufacturers, this means ensuring that any new technologies developed are interoperable with other systems. For integrators, it means making sure that trusted brands, products and technologies are used, because ensuring that a new technology will be supported long term will be critical to providing continued security services to customers. For both parties it means engaging in partnerships with each other, and with end users. By collaborating in the success of clients, we innovate in ways that specifically address the needs of people using these systems on a day-to-day basis. That is providing true value through emerging technologies.

This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Security Today.

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