The fifth annual MercTech Conference, held March 1-3 at the Loews Coronado Bay resort in Coronado, Calif., brought HID, Mercury’s parent company, ASSA ABLOY and seven of its top OEM partner companies together with security consultants to discuss product roadmaps, industry trends and issues. In his opening remarks, Mercury President Matt Barnette mentioned a few “fun facts” about the greater San Diego area, such as the fact that Ronald Reagan was the first person to cross the Coronado bridge in 1969; and that nearby La Jolla was home to Dr. Seuss, whose birthday was being celebrated across the nation that day.

The morning was dedicated to discussing the recent purchase of Mercury by HID, which is owned by ASSA ABLOY, all of which got a chance to speak and share the plan for moving forward with brands and products.

Barnette showed the attendees the Mercury logo, then the new HID logo, explaining that Mercury now will be treated as a brand under the HID banner.

“Some of you might not know Mercury was acquired but that is not a bad thing,” explained Harm Radstaak, vice president and managing director of physical access control for HID Global. “We took a distant view to do less and keep them successful. That being said, Mercury will take a stronger hand in HID development.

“We look at access control as a big market. HID is number one in cards and readers and with Mercury we are also number one in the OEM controller space,” Radstaak said.

In fact, Mercury has 25 OEM partners, the seven largest of which were represented at the event: Avigilon, RS2, LenelS2, Honeywell, Open Options, Genetec and Feenics.

Radstaak added that the company’s philosophy going forward is “to be mindful that the hardware stays but services are put on top of that. The industry is changing and we are here to help you play in that area with convenience, connected architecture and cloud services.”

He noted that everybody will get into the cloud whether they like it or not, and explained that HID launched its Origo cloud platform in December.

Serra Luck, HID vice president, end user and consultant business, then went over key trends in the market and how the HID/Mercury plan would address those.

“We see several trends in the market,” she said. “First is identity. It used to be on a card, then got smart, then we had virtual identities. We see how it is changing. Another is one is how people are doing business. There is a lot of RMR-based business coming in where hardware is a piece that is being leased and maintained, but the more important piece is service. We also see convergence. Many things are coming together like video, access control, building controls, etc. We have to prepare ourselves.”

Michael Serafin, vice president of engineering for HID, discussed the Mercury product roadmap, including cyber security.

He went over the new line of Mercury “red boards” as people have started referring to the more cyber-hardened line they introduced last year, along with some upcoming features planned for them.

“We launched new products for cyber security enhancements,” he said. “Longer term we are  looking to be able to enable settings through the cloud, purchase additional features and update the  reader [through the controller].”

One of the new enhancements will be Reader Manager over Wire, an upcoming application due to launch in May 2019 that will let the user or security integrator change the behavior of the reader through the panel, without having to touch the reader.

Damon Dageenakis, director of product marketing for HID, discussed product and controller strategy, including the plan for the HID Vertx panels that previously competed with Mercury.

“Two major things happened last year,” he shared. “We started working with the Mercury product team on the red boards, which are brand new platform. We are migrating 95 percent of what we ship to an entirely new generation of boards. The second thing was more of an internal activity with some voice-of-customer input about transitioning and converging our controller product lines.”

The HID Vertx and Edge controllers were merged with Mercury in 2018, he explained, noting that the Vertx line would continue, and would be blue boards rather than the Mercury line red. These boards, he said, would be aimed at a different part of the market, much of it overseas, to not compete with the Mercury line.

“The old HID boards will be the blue boards, but built out of Mercury technology,” he said. “OEMs can migrate from the Vertx-based API to the Mercury derivative starting in September 2019.”

After a morning session spent learning the high-level plans and directions in which HID and ASSA ABLOY plan to take the Mercury brand, attendees were then split up into small groups to visit each OEM partner company, plus Mercury and HID/ASSA ABLOY, to learn more about what each had to offer and perhaps to discover a new company or two they hadn’t known before.

In these group “speed-dating” sessions, consultants asked detailed product questions, shared their concerns or details of upcoming projects, and learned how each OEM took the Mercury board and enabled different features to make it their own.

The second-day sessions began with a consultant roundtable discussion that went into depth on issues such as OSDP and how to better drive adoption; cyber security; how consultants are seeing more interest in Bluetooth and mobile credentials; planning for end of life and how to get end users to change out access control systems more frequently; working with security integrators; and several good ideas about how to increase education and training in the industry.

The event also built time in for fun events, such as networking cocktail receptions, a big group dinner, and on the last night small group dinners hosted by each OEM.

The spirit of the event was perhaps best summed up by new Open Options President (and former Mercury president) Steve Wagner in his company’s session. “The magic of Mercury is in everything it can do; but each one of its partners can customize it according to their needs.”