As if by Magic
‘Do I have my keys with me?’ Almost everyone asks themselves this question as they leave the house. Soon, we’ll just need a smartphone to lock and unlock doors instead of metal keys. The market is seeing more and more intelligent locks that can be locked and unlocked remotely thanks to sophisticated technology. Safety remains the top priority.
The creation of the lock goes back many thousands of years. The mortise lock is the oldest known lock in human history. The oldest found dates back to 750 BC. Mortise locks are still produced and used in certain parts of the world (West Africa, Anatolia and the Faroe Islands). There are well over twenty different types of lock, distinguished by their latches and overall designs. Most of these locks are very sophisticated — after all, this is a millennia-old tradition and master craft.
In the 21st century, lock design has made a quantum leap away from mechanical and towards digital solutions, enabling completely new applications with disruptive potential.
Intelligent locks let you open a lock located at the other end of the world simply by clicking a button on your smartphone or by sending someone else your permission to open the lock. This technology is, on the one hand, intriguing and, on the other, somewhat disturbing at the same time. After all, security is essential when it comes to smart locks. Therefore, the protection of data is central to building trust in this new technology.
To provide the highest possible level of security, wireless lock communication needs to be secured with modern, symmetrical or asymmetrical encryption algorithms. Sensitive data such as the key should be encrypted before storage. Instead of saving user passwords as plain text, only their hash (encrypted checksum) should be stored. Cloud applications are best operated in geo-redundant data centres and on the infrastructure of well-established companies. Digital keys, lock networks and the data generated by them allow for new knowledge through the use of intelligent machine learning algorithms. With online authorisation management, the administrator can ensure that only authorised persons or groups can gain access. The administrator can also retrieve detailed information concerning when or where a door has been unlocked. Permissions can be issued and withdrawn anytime, anywhere.
Digital locking systems will soon provide additional functions that allow for more convenience than proprietary technologies such as traditional keys or RFID cards. Pioneering features such as ‘hands-free mode’ and the integration of ‘mobile access’ into smartwatches are currently being worked on. The goal is to let authorised users pass through a door as if it were already unlocked without having to pull a key, card or smartphone out of their pocket.
At the moment, there are various intelligent lock solutions on the market. Some of them stem from one of the roughly 150 traditional lock manufacturers in Europe, while others are designed for specific niches such as use in the automotive industry or exclusively for the ‘smart home’ environment. Obviously, the big upturn in mobile access is still to come.
The ideal solution should be vendor-neutral with open cloud architecture that allows customers to flexibly scale their hardware and effortlessly integrate additional services. Otherwise, customers would need to install countless mobile access apps in order to open all the doors in both their private and business environments.
The ‘KleverKey’ mobile access solution by Swissprime Technologies AG has integrated many of the various lock manufacturers into its solution. Customers only need one app to gain access to their car, printer, home, office, bike or gym and to remotely manage their permissions.
The Advantages of Mobile Access
The rapid increase in demand and the high level of interest indicate a clear trend towards mobile access. The advantages speak for themselves:
Users manage all their locks in a single app. So as well as unlocking/starting their car, bike and home, they can easily rent their belongings and generate additional revenue streams. By connecting the ‘mobile access’ service with other services such as booking platforms and alarm systems, completely new areas of applications are opened up and the value for the user increases exponentially.
Operators benefit from massively simpler management of entire user groups and properties. Access rights are managed via an intuitive web interface or using existing IT systems. No keys can get lost, no locks need to be replaced. Connecting more services through the cloud creates simpler processes and cuts costs significantly. KleverKey therefore relies on open interfaces to accelerate integration.
Manufacturers of intelligent locks whose products can be operated by key and RFID card can extend their portfolio to include mobile access and thus participate in a digital SaaS (software-as-a-service) business model. With KleverKey, it takes only a few days to integrate mobile access technology into new intelligent locks. As a vendor-independent provider of a mobile access solution, KleverKey’s vision is that customers can manage all of their locks and permissions in a single app.
Service providers can use mobile access to connect the KleverKey cloud service with their own services, creating further business opportunities such as: reception-free hotels, AirBnB apartments and co-working spaces unlocked via smartphone; intelligent alerts for blue light organisations and autonomous pick-up stations; keyless facility management; automated access for care organisations; and guaranteed package delivery to name but a few.
Miro Mandelz (Partner, Head of Sales, Swissprime Technologies AG)