Hardware Gets Smart: Access Control Advances for Commercial Entrances

By Amber Galaviz

There’s no denying the immense developments happening in the technology field. From self-driving cars to personal drones, the evidence is all around us and constantly evolving. Hardware is no different. The days of traditional lock-and-key may be limited as the popularity of smart hardware extends from the residential to commercial industry.

According to Eric Rittenhouse, vice president of Banner Solutions’ electronic access control team, developers are weighing both security and convenience as they cultivate new products for the market. Rittenhouse recently noticed a shift from proximity technology, such as magnetic stripe cards, to smart card technology, which has proven to be more secure.

“Proximity technology can be duplicated easily,” he says, noting the availability of products that allow consumers to duplicate such cards.

With smart card technology, where there’s an encrypted chip on the card, Rittenhouse explains there’s a challenge response at the door. This makes for a more secure transaction and duplication is no longer a concern. For an added level of security, some hardware developers, such as HID Global, offer smart card readers with keypad readers.

Tasha Birdwell, product marketing manager for entrance systems and interior glass systems at dormakaba USA Inc. says “a number of manufacturers offer a glass locking system that would interact with a building’s access control system.” She says dormakaba offers the eLock for use with the company’s MUTO system and, while it’s not technically a “smart” lock, it can tie into the local access control and be opened using a radio-frequency identification card. The product fits directly into the track and jamb of a sliding door and is concealed fully following installation.

Meanwhile, Assa Abloy recently released its own digital glass door lock. Sykvons Iyavoo, senior product manager for the company’s electromechanical solutions, says the Adams Rite G100 extends access control capabilities to frameless glass doors without any door modifications.

The G100 is a network-managed wireless digital door lock that can be surface-mounted to all-glass interior openings. It features two access control options: a user code using the touch-screen or a compatible high-frequency credential which provides added security.

With consumers’ needs and desires evolving the hardware market, the glazing industry will also be affected. Birdwell says while most interior glass systems in the past had simple key locks installed, now contract glaziers have to consider how the locks they’re installing interact with the access control system.

Smartphones are another technology that has not only progressed exponentially, but also changed the way consumers think of convenience. Both residential and commercial doors can utilize smartphone apps as a means to grant access. According to Rittenhouse, a person’s phone is a credential they almost always have on them—offering optimal convenience.

“I didn’t think the market was going to go this way a decade ago,” he says. “I was a little skeptical but they’ve not only made phones encrypted so they’re secure, but people now put everything on their phones.”

Biometric locks, which once read a person’s palm, can now read fingerprints for access control. As those locks get smaller, they are also becoming easier to install within glass systems.

While Banner Solutions doesn’t offer biometric locks currently, Rittenhouse
says the door hardware wholesaler is looking to add a biometrics line to its catalog.

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