The invention of the humble lock and key dates back to the 6th century, and in its simplest form, served societies as the earliest version of access control. Traditional locks and keys are a functional solution to the root problem of securing property and identifying an individual before allowing or denying entry.

Throughout the 20th century, devices continued to evolve, and the way residential and commercial spaces were secured vastly improved due to precision engineering and the advancing of computer technologies. In the 2010s, the access control evolution began its next stage due to the mass production of smart devices, which today are carried by an estimated 3.6 billion people globally.

This mass scale adoption has created the infrastructure and tools needed for security developers to create innovative updates, taking access control to the next level in enhanced functionality and end user experience.

Smartphones and smart watches create an opportunity for innovation, and the security industry, like many others, is being upended. There is rapid advancement happening right now, such as new cloud-based and web browser technologies, or technology that helps us to connect things wirelessly.

These tools are helping security manufacturers create seamless building solutions for the future.

People are becoming increasingly familiar with using multiple apps on smart devices to identify themselves and manage daily tasks. These can range from accessing social media or bank accounts, to streaming content and paying bills. These services have set the bar with the level of functionality expected for a seamless experience when using your smart devices for personal verification. They have prompted the security industry to follow suit when developing new products for their markets.

From an access control perspective, we are utilizing many different ways of identifying people. Central to this is an individual’s smart device and biometric information.

An example of this already happening in other industries is cashless payments. Since the pandemic began, cashless payments have accelerated at a rate that may have normally taken five years. Access control and smart credentials are next, but they are still in the early stages of development.

Smart credentials, a form of digital access control, allows a system user to enter a secured building without a traditional key or physical card/fob. They are administered by whoever manages a security system, and are more cost-effective and scalable.

Once a smart credential has been issued, a secondary layer of security can be implemented, which requires the user to login to their device using their chosen security method (pin, fingerprint or facial recognition) before using the digital token.

Using smart credentials is convenient, secure and particularly useful for unmanned sites as they can be issued to the user by email ahead of time, allowing them easy access on arrival. They can also be effective on sites where permission is granted to lots of people for short periods, at varying intervals.

For smart credentials and automated entry systems to become a mainstream product in people’s everyday lives, a simple system setup that uses basic PC literacy is key to mass scale distribution. The user experience needs to run cost-effectively in the background, as security systems of the past have come with fundamentally complicated infrastructure, expensive setup costs and ongoing maintenance.

We should be able to breeze seamlessly through a door with security and convenience. This is paramount in all our decisions around our newest system, Paxton10, which combines video management and access control on a single user-friendly platform.