At London’s IFSEC exhibition, SMAhome caught up with Thomas Schulz, Director of Marketing and Communications, Digital and Access Solutions, at ASSA ABLOY EMEA, to talk smart locks and smarter homes.
When it comes to home security, thoughts of a digital solution increasingly cross our minds. In the recent past, we’ve had generations of door locks that don’t require a key. But using a PIN code or key fob to gain entry isn’t the same as the lock being genuinely connected to a home automation ecosystem. This is where the smart digital lock comes in.
“We see the smart door lock as the entrance point to the smart home,” says Thomas Schulz. “Smart technology adds a layer of convenience and security from the moment you hit the doorstep. It’s only natural that all your new smart home gadgetry should be protected with a connected, intelligent lock, too.”
Door lock market leaders like ASSA ABLOY, along with a growing number of startups, are working hard to bring smart technology to your front door – quite literally. While each smart lock has its own quirks and perks, they are all at heart a clever, niche re-invention of a millennia-old technology.
According to research conducted by ASSA ABLOY, a majority of homeowners who endorse the major access mediums – smart cards, key fobs and PIN codes – agree that smartphone-powered access is safer and more secure than a traditional mechanical key. It’s fair to say that the future of digital wireless access control in the residential sector looks promising. If industry forecasts are accurate, this market is in a hurry to grow much larger.
Global Integration Partnerships
Increasing demand for electromechanical products is a general consumer trend, as more and more people look to digital and mobile technology for a total security solution. But a door is not the same in every market; standards and profiles vary widely between and within European countries, and with other continents.
“We approach this by using our vast experience with mechanical and electronic locking solutions that meet different door standards all over the world,” explains Schulz. “We understand doors, and we use our knowledge to build smart door locks that will meet the needs of both customers and our many partner intermediaries.”
“ASSA ABLOY owns leading and trusted lock brands, all over the globe, including Yale, Mul-T-Lock, Vachette, KESO, NEMEF, FAB and TESA. We intend to use our local brand strength to build our global footprint in smart lock technology.”
Smart door locks from ASSA ABLOY are being connected, sold and supported by partners including smart home providers, utility operators and telcos, as well as various retailers around Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific region. Customer demands often vary by channel. Smart door locks bring something different to each channel partner. They can broaden the offering from smart home providers, and take their business reach far beyond the tech-savvy, early adopters they are accustomed to supplying. They introduce new, ongoing service models for utility companies and telcos. In contrast, “plug & play” retrofit solutions attract the DIY market. But for all of them, the advantage is clear: smart door locks bring new business opportunities for anyone looking to enter or consolidate their position in the rapidly developing home automation industry.
Faced with a range of incompatible wireless communication standards in the smart home market – Z-Wave, ZigBee and others – ASSA ABLOY’s smart locks adopt the flexible solution of replacing a compatible module inside the locks. This means that whatever protocol a project or partner requires, an ASSA ABLOY smart lock can deliver.
A Growing Success Story
PRONET, a leading smart home provider in Turkey, is one major customer already integrated with a Yale smart lock solution.
“Our integrations with Samsung SmartThings, major domestic utility RWE from Germany, and Verisure of Securitas Direct from Scandinavia are all successful cases of smart door lock integration, where our products work seamlessly with local door standards. There will be more and more partnerships with international leading brands coming soon,” he reveals.
“The smart home market is in an early stage now. Current customers are mainly early adopters. So, market education and easy installation are two key tactics ASSA ABLOY focuses on. A wireless smart lock makes installation as easy as possible. The fact that no complicated wiring or major site modification is required suits the needs of all our channel customers and end users.”
“We saw a similar trajectory in the commercial sector, where traditional wired access control is increasingly complemented with wireless, battery-powered locks replacing mechanical locks,” Schulz concludes. “Today, however, we see fast-growing demand. This is why we believe there is much more market potential in both residential and commercial buildings for intelligent, wireless access control.”