Unlock Doors with a Smartphone?

November 26th, 2012

There is a new technology that is slowly making its way into the world of traditional door access control.  The technology is called Near Field Communication or NFC.  Some newer smartphones are built with NFC chips inside of them which will allow those phones to control devices just by holding the phone near a NFC reader.

You may have read about this technology as there have been some news articles about Google’s efforts to use NFC technology to enable mobile payments as part of their Google Wallet strategy.

Google WalletIn this article from October 20th, 2012, Google states that early adopters are beginning to use NFC payment technology but that widespread adoption is still three to five years away.  As with any new technology, NFC use will continue to grow and will eventually be widely available.

So, what does this have to do with access control?  There are companies in the security industry that are conducting trials of using smartphones with embedded NFC technology to act as credentials in order to open access-controlled doors.  So, instead of having to carry around an access card or keyfob, you would just put your NFC-enabled smartphone up against a NFC reader to release the door.  Much easier!

HID, a leading provider of access control readers and credentials, has been conducting a trial of using NFC-enabled smartphones as access control credentials with two companies in Silicon Valley, Netflix and Good Technology.  A recent article about the technology trials at Good Technology stated that “more than 80% of respondents felt the smartphone was more convenient to use than their current access card, primarily because they never forget their phones like they do their badges. All Good Technology respondents said they liked the look of the door unlock application on their phones, and said it was intuitive and easy to use.”

There were a number of other statistics from the article that demonstrated the enthusiasm that the trial participants had for using this new technology to grant passage through access control doors.  With positive results like these and the proliferation of smartphones with embedded NFC technology, it will only be a matter of time before we see widespread use of smartphones for access control credentials.

Soon, you too will be able to unlock a door with a smartphone!

If you have questions about how NFC technology works, let me know.  You can reach me at scotth@verifiedsecurity.com.

-Scott Hightower, Verified Security