This year was the launch of the Global Security Exchange (GSX), formerly known as ASIS, and whether you’re a security director, end user, or OEM you had to be there to witness everything that is happening with today’s security technology. From Robotics to AI and Machine Learning to reimagined Mobile Applications, this year’s event was anything but your run-of-the-mill security conference. However, beyond the futuristic security robots and drones was a more subtle theme and the reason why developers are working to deploy such advanced solutions. This theme, according to UniKey’s executives was, “reinventing the consumer-security experience.” Below we have a list of the top trends that will contribute to the development of smarter, faster, and stronger security solutions for every consumer.

AI & Machine Learning
One of the many ways our team saw AI and machine learning being utilized was through video surveillance technology. With AI and Machine Learning, systems can learn to better identify people, objects, and even actions in order to keep a safer eye on facilities and the people within them. Systems can also learn to recognize and notify security directors of any required maintenance.
Mobile Security
Yes, mobile access control was an incredibly popular product at GSX 2018, however this time we’re talking about security that’s on the move. This year’s conference saw more security drones, droids, and counter-UAV defense systems than ever before. Companies were showcasing anything from security robots who could also detect spills and leaks to sophisticated drones that could effectively monitor building exteriors.
Passive Solutions
With the introduction of more advanced technology, security is beginning to see an emphasis on passive solutions. Consumers are looking for security systems that make access seamless and unobtrusive. One of the systems our executives noticed was Boon Edam’s Lifeline Speedlane Swing turnstile line. The turnstile utilizes IDEMIA’s MorphoWave™ technology which enables touchless fingerprint recognition, so that individuals need only slide their hand through a scanner instead of having to stop and have their hand be scanned.
Real-time Notifications
Companies like AppArmor and Sielox are introducing new ways to keep campuses safe. With push notifications, intelligent location sharing, and real-time crime reportings, these applications give campuses more tools to keep occupants informed of any dangerous situations. Some applications, like Sielox CLASS, even offer two way communication between occupants and first responders so they may exchange helpful details and instructions from one another during emergencies.
Mobile Everything
This year, and in the years to come, mobile applications will be prominent security trends. Mobile access control systems that enable remote sharing, revoking, and monitoring of user credentials are becoming a must-have option for consumers. Mobile Access Control is also becoming a highly sought after solution as it can potentially integrate with and enhance legacy security systems. From remote monitoring of video surveillance feeds to enabling frictionless and robust security solutions, the possibilities of what companies can do with mobile access control technology are nearly endless.

Mobile credentials are on the rise. They’re reaching popularity with consumers everywhere as people begin to experience the difference between using a keycard and using a smartphone to unlock their doors. Mobile keys mean more control, functionality, safety features, and lighter pockets as people no longer have to carry around traditional credentials. As mobile brings a greater user experience to consumers, more security vendors are looking to add keyless entry to their list of security solutions. However, breaking into the Mobile Access Control Industry isn’t always easy. You and your team will need the right hardware, software, and expert know-how to implement a mobile solution that will give your users an at-door experience that goes beyond the typical key, fob, pin code, or card. Our team can help you expedite the deployment of mobile access control solutions and bring more robust and convenient security to the front door. Go mobile in minutes with UniKey. Learn more.

Back by popular demand is our Employee Spotlight Interview. This time around we have Allen Davila, one of our talented and dedicated Hardware Engineers.  


UNIKEY: Allen, what is the best part of your job?

ALLEN: The best part is that I don’t feel like I’m actually working. Though we’re constantly working on challenging things, the people at UniKey make it fun and take the edge off of everything. You get to hang out with your team and build cool things together. It’s different from a regular 9-5 job where you’re just constantly grinding away, and getting little enjoyment out of what you’re doing.

UNIKEY: What is the toughest part of your job?

ALLEN: The toughest part is releasing hardware designs, because you have to try to get things right the first time. With hardware you don’t really have an infinite amount of chances to try to come up with new ways to solve a problem. It’s not quite like software where, you can hit recompile and make all the changes you want after realizing you made a mistake in the code or would prefer to take a different approach to something. And here there’s pressure because to build a design out, it can be very costly if you make a design mistake. Luckily, we have a strong team and process behind producing designs. My team members and I meticulously look over each other’s work through design reviews, that way if there are any mistakes we can take care of them. Really, with hardware it’s about being proactive, not reactive.


UNIKEY: What separates UniKey from other employers?

ALLEN: I’d say the culture and the comradery. UniKey has such a strong culture that brings everyone together. You don’t get that at every job. Oftentimes it’s just cubicles and isolation, whereas UniKey is open and full of positive communication.


Working at UniKey comes with a lot of opportunity. Whether it’s taking on new and challenging tasks, or getting the chance to work with a motivated and spirited team, it’s all in a day’s work at UniKey. To check out our available positions, visit 
www.unikey.com/careers.

Product Management in an Ever-Changing Startup World

6 Minute Read

Product management can be a difficult task for any company, and it’s no different for UniKey. It is important that our developers and engineers are well informed on what exactly it is they need to be working on. When working with our partners, it’s our job to take their ideas and turn them into a reality; one that works for both parties as well as the end user. Luckily, we’re in good hands with our VP of Product, Will Holderness. We sat down with him for an informative interview that really dives into what it means to oversee product management.

How would you explain product management to a 5-year-old?
Will: A lot of what we do is taking what a customer needs and turning that into something engineering can build. We’re effectively deciding what we’re going to build as a company. A lot of that comes from understanding what our customers actually need, and beyond that, what their customers need. Since we’re a B2B company, we usually aren’t serving the end customer directly, but because of that we have to also look past what our customers are asking for to better ascertain what the end-user will want out of our partner’s product. So, overall my job is to figure out what our partners are really asking for and how we can best accomplish that with them.

 

What are some of the biggest challenges you face when working on a new product?
Will: The biggest challenge is that smart access control is still a relatively new concept for a lot of companies and people. So, when our partners meet with us, there are a lot of ideas floating around and a lot of features they would love to have for their products, but they aren’t entirely sure of what can be achieved. Luckily, the possibilities are endless with our platform, so the real challenge is defining what is actually needed.

 

What are some of the questions you ask our partners when trying to determine their product vision and goals?
Will: A big part of it is asking them, “What do you see UniKey doing for you?” Because our team is capable of a lot, but we need to see how this will fit into our roadmap. For that reason, and to better understand where UniKey fits into a partners’ potential product, I ask them, “How do you envision us being a part of this product? What do you see as the end goal of this product for your company? What do you want the customer experience to be? What do you want your customers to get out of it?” Once we understand that, we can better align our product offering with what the final product will be.

 

How do you go about creating a product roadmap? What is the process?
Will: This is a tough one. A big part of it is figuring out what our customers want. In order to do this, I sit in on most of the sales calls, so that even before we sign a contract I can begin thinking about what’s coming down the pipeline for the company. It gives me some great visibility and better understanding of what a lot of our partners and future partners are looking for. Even if we don’t end up signing a deal with certain companies, at the end of the day you still gain a lot of insight that paints a picture of what the industry is asking for from those calls. I get to see what the commercial, residential, and automotive industries are looking for in their physical access control which I can then take and map out where it can all fit into UniKey’s vision. I even get to hear some individual customers asks like, “We need this feature to be able to support Bluetooth key fobs” or “We want to be able to use the gateway to be able to do something different.” A lot of these are great ideas and asks that a majority of the time represent internal asks that we also want to be able to do with our platform. When this is the case, Product will often make sure the team begins to work on these asks as soon as possible in order for us to better provide for our partners and the industry as a whole.


What are some business goals you have for the near future for UniKey?

Will: A business goal for us is to be able to provide a full SDK approach for our partners. A lot of our customers will come in and say,“We love your platform, your firmware, your mobile apps…but we want something different for our web portal.” At that point, we’ll then have to work on building something entirely new for our partners instead of being able to work on our core platform offering. Therefore, my goal is to get us to be able to provide our partners with all the tools they may need to be able to go off and build whatever they’d like to sell. This way we can service more partners who want to work with us, while still being able to work on enhancing our platform offering for our current partners.


How does product management tie into the overall vision and mission of UniKey?

Will: I think it’s pretty essential to UniKey. Our engineering team can pretty much build anything we ask them to build, but it’s Product’s job to take what our customers are asking and map that into the UniKey vision. We’ve had a few customers ask us to do things that don’t align with our core vision, so it’s Product’s responsibility to take all of that and find a way to make it all map together. A lot of the time, this actually ends up benefitting our partners too, as they don’t always know exactly what they want out of their product. In that case we’re often able to provide a better solution than our partner was initially asking for, while still being able to keep our vision in line.

As you can see, building a product, especially one that is still in the very beginning of its life-cycle, can be difficult. However, that’s what UniKey is here to do. Working with our partners, we not only get the opportunity to bring their product visions to life but we’re also given the chance to provide the industry and end-users with smarter, more secure access control solutions. To learn more about collaborating with UniKey, visit www.unikey.com.

As we make our way through Q3 of 2018, our team has been working hard alongside industry giants to develop and deploy the latest in physical access control technology and solutions. Since the company’s humble beginning in 2010, it’s seen several product launches, partnerships, and internal growth. For a company that is rapidly innovating, it’s only natural that its website should follow suit and reflect the same level of ingenuity UniKey is known for. From launching a new website to delivering industry-leading solutions, this quarter and the ones to follow in 2019, are going to be momentous for the mobile access control pioneers.

Find your way to UniKey’s new homepage by clicking the UniKey logo in the upper left-hand corner or here.

“Swipe from the best, then adapt”

A quote from the author of In Search of Excellence, Tom Peters.

Today in physical access control we’ve reached a point where we’re doing just that- swiping and adapting. Every great piece of technology was most likely adapted from another. The automobile was adapted from the horse and buggy, from the loom we got the sewing machine, and from the invention of key cards and mag-stripes we now have mobile credentials. Thus, is the way of progress, as adaptation is the birthplace of innovation and life-changing inventions. As the physical security space progresses, there will be a few challenges to address along the way however, this is something that is only natural in the cycle of innovation and change. Our Founder and CEO, Phil Dumas, discusses this topic in greater detail in his latest post.

 

The Ideation

One of UniKey’s greatest assets is its employment of some of the most talented students at the University of Central Florida. While working as a test engineering intern at UniKey, Mohammad Hammad, was also wrapping up his last year of UCF’s Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) Program. This is the year a lot of our team members, who are also UCF CECS alumni, remember very well as it’s one of the most demanding years in the program. Why is that? Because this is the year seniors of the program must design and execute the infamous senior design project.

Instead of letting the project keep him from sleeping at night, Mohammad immediately began to work on it. With the help of UniKey’s mobile key platform he was able to develop his “Smart Cabinetry;” a new take on the way we store our valuables. When asked about what initially spurred the idea for his project, Mohammad stated, “I wanted to make a more convenient way to secure your belongings in your own home, since most safes, cabinets, and other mechanisms for safekeeping have always seemed to work against their users – making it a task to access their assets”. To make a system that could simplify the everyday safe, Mohammad utilized UniKey’s mobile app SDK and PbU (Powered by UniKey) module to integrate mobile access control technology into a traditional cabinet lock. “The timing could not have been more perfect, actually. I knew the PbU module was set to be released around the beginning of the semester and that it would make my project easier to develop,” he adds.

The Product

Mohammad also took this specific mobile access control based project on because he wanted to add value, not only to his project, but to UniKey as well. Leveraging several pieces of UniKey’s platform, Mohammad aimed to create a differentiated piece of technology for his project. Additionally he was looking for a way to show individuals everywhere how simple it is to use UniKey solutions to build mobile key products. “I had previous experience testing UniKey’s products, but never had a the chance to really go through the entire building and development process. Even then though, it was easy to use thanks to the provided documentation for each of the platform’s pieces.” As one person, Mohammed was able to have his smart cabinetry product perfected and ready to use in 6 months; 3 months of which were for the design, documentation, and prototyping of the project.

The Final Result

The final result of Mohammed’s senior design project was a fully automated “smart cabinet”, capable of supporting mobile access control and of course, a more convenient way to secure your personal belongings. The Smart Cabinetry also has the ability to track the location of the objects you wish to keep secure, giving users a means to monitor their items in real-time through the implementation of pressure trackers. “It also features automatic door controls and remote control capability,” Mohammad adds. To learn more about how simple it is to integrate UniKey’s platform into any traditional lock, reader, or pincode, keep an eye out for the upcoming editions of our “How it’s Made” blog series where we gain a more in-depth look at how Smart Cabinetry was made. In the meantime, visit www.unikey.com.

As a majority of you already know, last week’s ISC West was a big success with over 30,000+ security professionals making their way to the Sands Expo for a look at the latest security trends and technology. UniKey was lucky enough to have a few members of our Senior Leadership team attend the show and come back with some insights on the trade show. We sat down with, Roy Johnson, our VP of Strategic Accounts to hear his thoughts.

What trends stuck out to you?

Roy: The idea of the mobile credential is starting to mature and gain adoption. There was a lot of interest in the technology last year but this year we’re seeing a shift in adoption beyond just the early adopters and first movers.  This is starting with crossover reader products that can process both mobile and legacy card credentials. I expect us to quickly see a shift to readers that abandon legacy card technology entirely.

How can these trends be applied to UniKey’s platform?

Roy: These trends are at the center of what UniKey does, clearly.  However, what sets us apart is that our platform and IP portfolio were built from the ground up to achieve a user experience that is more convenient than a standard access card or fob.  To truly realize proliferation of the mobile credential it has to be better than what we have now. In some cases, it’s way more complicated to use a mobile credential with some offerings than a standard card. Opening a door with your phone is interesting. Opening a door with a phone that you never have to interact with or remove from your pocket is actually easier and more convenient than standard cards.

What do you think the trends will be at next year’s ISC West?

Roy: We will see more collaboration and partnerships in the space. Keeping mobile apps up to date, managing complex backend server infrastructures and service level agreements is miles away from the core business expertise of most reader OEMs. Beyond that, the mobile credential really transcends the PACS industry in the long run. These credentials are being used to open the doors to homes, automobiles, hotels, and of course the office.  The opportunities for innovation when all of these doors are connected and the data that provides from an ecosystem point of view is a game changer. That will be the foundation for truly intelligent and adaptive security that doesn’t inconvenience the people that should have access to an area while keeping others out.

What do you think differentiates UniKey from other companies you saw at the show?

Roy: Experience. UniKey is the largest mobile credential platform in the world with over 350,000 locks powered by us across 65 countries. We are experts when it comes to mobile credentials and the technologies surrounding them, it is our sole focus. More importantly, we recognize the immense value that our partners bring to the table in the form of manufacturing, distribution, and domain expertise for their vertical. When you work with UniKey to put a mobile credential in your product, you are working with a true partner. That is something we believe very strongly in.

Roy couldn’t have said it better. Working with our partners, Unikey aims to provide the very best in mobile access control solutions. To learn more about our platform and how you can work with us, visit www.unikey.com.

Next week thousands of security companies and experts will be making their way to Las Vegas’ Sands Expo for ISC West 2018. At last year’s ISC West all eyes were on video surveillance and biometrics, however, this year several different security technologies will compete for showgoers’ attention. Below, we have a list of just a few of the key access control technologies that will reign at this year’s show.

Internet of Things

The adoption rate for IoT technology has grown significantly since 2013 when it was reported to be an important factor for only 12% of organizations across all industries. Today that number stands at almost 30%. Industries, organizations, and entrepreneurs all over the world are finding ways to build on the IoT and its remarkable ecosystem in order to gain better insights on their customers that can help fine-tune unique customer experiences for each user. Additionally, IoT For All writes that when “your security measures are paired with IoT-enabled devices that bolster interconnectivity, you will have almost unlimited access to a digital trail of security events.” This kind of data holds the potential to give companies and users a better understanding of who and when individuals are accessing connected entry-points; giving them more control over their system. With that being said, security professionals can expect quite a few ISC sessions that will delve more into how the industry can utilize IoT and cloud-based access control solutions in order to create smarter, more intuitive products and more productive office spaces.

Biometrics

This year, biometrics will be making a reappearance at ISC West with many organizations showcasing facial recognition and fingerprint technology. However, this year’s biometric systems seem to be implementing more frameworks constructed on neural networks to boost the efficiency of visual data processing. As the name suggests, neural networks are more or less modeled after the human brain, and consist of “thousands or even millions of simple processing nodes that are densely interconnected.” Neural networks are also able to function in similar ways to the human brain, in that they’re able to process information in a similar fashion; something that can be used in object recognition systems such as facial or eye (retina and iris) recognition and even signature verification.

Video Surveillance

Yet another piece of access control technology that’s no stranger to the ISC spotlight, video surveillance, is expected to be another major focal point of the show for the second year in a row. Video surveillance systems are getting smarter through the use of video analytics which utilize machine learning methods like deep learning, artificial intelligence, and cognitive learning (like neural networks) and as they get more sophisticated, they’re able to be stronger threat detectors and data gatherers. Erin Harrington of SSI adds that “today’s cameras can track and analyze motion, sound, colors and even temperatures. They can recognize people, packages, pets, fire and specific activities like falling and breathing.” With all of its capabilities, video surveillance is generating more interest from security experts because of its daily opportunity to gather and process a massive amount of rich visual data. In the future, this data could be used as a foundation for predictive security systems.

Mobile

The final piece of security technology that will be a must-see at this year’s ISC West is mobile key technology. Mobile credentials have been a hot topic of discussion ever since the release of the very first smart lock, the Kwikset Kevo. While mobile keys are arguably one of the most secure and convenient forms of credentials, they’re also one of the most versatile. Mobile access control technology can be applied to all of the above security trends, giving several organizations and their products the ability to enhance their key offerings and features. For instance, using a mobile connected surveillance system, users can keep an eye out for potential threats from any remote location. Coupling this with mobile keys and their remote locking and unlocking abilities you get a similar system to Amazon Key, and a more protected front door. Additionally, adding mobile access control to biometrics could give systems an added layer of security and additional functionality. Take Samsung Pass and Apple Pay’s Face ID for example, where users can securely pay and/or verify their identity with their eyes and face; creating a more seamless and secure cashout process. With mobile access control, a smarter, connected security ecosystem is within reach.

Meet with UniKey at ISC West 2018

As you prepare for ISC West, we encourage you to schedule a meeting with UniKey’s Founder and CEO, Phil Dumas, and our team to find out how UniKey’s leading mobile access control platform can work with your legacy products. To find out more, visit https://www.unikey.com/isc-west-2018.

Whether you’re a startup or a company that has long been in the physical access control space, the question: ‘Do you Build or Buy?’ holds the same amount of weight for organizations that are looking to incorporate mobile access control technology into their portfolio of solutions. Today, with the rapid developments in technology, standards, and devices, companies can feel overwhelmed by the pressure to innovate internally. To respond to the pressure, organizations are either looking to build their own proprietary technology or build on a third party’s established platform. As a company that has had great success with building a mobile access control platform, even before it became a lucrative venture, we at UniKey believe that partnership and/or buying from a trusted mobile key vendor is the most advantageous route for most organizations. Below, you’ll find some market statistics and insights that validate this notion.