Rapid developments in technology have caused the security and access control industry to change significantly. The access control market in 2019 and 2020 can be described best as strong, but in flux with changing architectures, customer expectations and roles of security integrators. Dynamics that have very little to do with actual access control trends have a monumental impact on access control this year, such as a significant decline in construction projects due to the coronavirus fears. Nevertheless, these issues don’t seem to be impacting the access control industry’s overall outlook on the future. Here are the top access control trends to watch out for the year 2021.
From Cards to Smartphones: The Rise of Mobile Credentials
There has been a tremendous uptick in the popularity of mobile credentials. Research firm IHS Markit has reported that mobile-based credentials are the fastest-growing access control product. Globally they have experienced nearly a 150 percent growth between 2017 and 2018. Estimates show that more than 120 million mobile credentials will be downloaded in 2023 by end users.¹ Though access cards still play a powerful role in the access control market, we are seeing a strong shift towards mobile access control like various companies. The use of mobile-based credentials is the logical next step for the physical security and access control industry. The fact that people are always with their smartphone helps popularise this trend. Phones aren’t just phones anymore. They play a bigger role in day-to-day life and this also includes access control. Mobile credentials can revolutionise the industry, eliminating the need to carry and wipe a card. Instead, a phone’s technology can be used to authenticate identity and grant entry. This gives greater flexibility, improves privacy and can also lower the maintenance costs of credential management for end users. Additionally, a clear advantage is that employees are more likely to carry their smartphone with them and less likely to lose them compared to NFC transponders.
Smartphone Capabilities Migrating to Wearables
The convenience of mobile access is transforming the daily experience. Wearables are making this process even faster and easier. They seem to have opened up a section in the market which was completely non-existent. The goal of wearable technologies is to solve day-to-day human problems in real time by integrating functional, portable electronic devices into people’s daily lives. For access control, wearable devices allow you to wave your watch, wristband or other device to unlock doors, and not having to pull your phone out first.
What are wearables?
Wearables are a class of smart devices that can be worn on the wrist or clipped onto clothing or carried. This includes smart jewelry, such as rings, wristbands, watches or pins. They work with Bluetooth or Near Field Communication.
Access control will first show up in wearables and embedded in things like clothes, glasses and rings. But what’s next? Will access control get under our skin? Well, at the moment, it sounds far-fetched. Human microchipping is way off from seeing mainstream adoption.
Face Recognition Instead of Fingerprint Access
Needless to say, the awareness of touchless access control increased and was highlighted by the corona pandemic. There are several innovative access control systems that should help to regulate normality. Especially, touchless door activation can make a difference when it comes to a clean, hygienic facility. It is crucial in high contact public places such as healthcare facilities. We see a trend towards facial recognition instead of fingerprint, which provides a modern touchless access experience. It has become widely implemented for both identity verification and access control. Therefore, the use of biometric scanners is necessary. For years, the only types of biometric access control customers have been used to, are fingerprint scanners. This trend is changing as more sophisticated scanners are entering the market. These include facial and iris patterns and imply faster access due to quick authentication and high level of security for their premises.
Access Control As a Feature
There are some other trends that will shape the future of access control. The industry will also have to face the fact that access control and lock companies are becoming an important feature for smart building or apartment software companies and not the other way around—speaking of access control as a feature. We believe that “Access as a feature” will be a market driver in the future. End users are looking for more value beyond just safety. Access control value increases when it is integrated into other systems like visitor management or tenant experience apps. It will be an Access Control as a Feature (ACaaF) of a much larger value proposition.
“We will see access control more as a feature than a stand-alone industry”, says Lee Odess, founder of Inside Access Control, in an interview.
Companies, such as SKEPP, Geneva Ski Storage or Locaboo are already partnering with Tapkey. These systems integrated the Tapkey access technology into their system to automate access and optimise processes.
Access control requirements continue to evolve and expand rapidly. Most company systems run on the cloud today. Physical security is also seeing a strong shift towards cloud-based access control, due to huge benefits provided in terms of operational improvements. Legacy access technologies need to be maintained, upgraded and replaced. Security, mobility and a seamless user experience are three key factors influencing development. We haven’t yet begun to see the peak of the mountain in terms of where we are going. We will keep you posted!