Before UniKey’s Executive Vice President, Dr. Tam Hulusi, came to UniKey he worked for several notable companies like Honeywell, Newmark Technology Inc, and HID Global. His leadership experience with these companies gave him an extensive amount of knowledge on the security industry as well as valuable insights on what keeps a company and its employees happy. In his latest article, Dr. Hulusi reflects on the changing work world and how company happiness depends on several important factors and generations of people. Find the article here.

Today, the average car has “the computing power of 20 personal computers, features about 100 million lines of programming code, and processes up to 25 gigabytes of data an hour.” Impressive right? You’d think automakers would be content with how smart their vehicles are, however as history has shown us, humanity will always try to keep improving on technology. Most of us already know that carmakers are working on developing their own fleets of autonomous vehicles. However, while auto OEMs do this, there are companies like Voxx Automotive that are always looking for ways to offer automakers the perfect complimentary products and vehicle accessories that will complete the car of the future. In our latest case study, we examine how Voxx Automotive worked with UniKey to create a car key that’s ready to take on the future. To check out the case study, click here.

7 Minute Read

It’s midnight and you’re making your way back home from a Halloween party that had way too many clowns and not enough apple cider. The night air is crisp and and uncomfortably still. Your house is about a block away, and you’re beginning to regret that last drink of “Witch’s Brew” as you awkwardly rummage through your belongings to have your keys ready to unlock your front door. You could’ve sworn you took your keys out of the festive, jack-o’-lantern embellished key dish, but now you’re beginning to question your memory. It’s getting colder and you’re now right outside the door to your home. It’s dark. It’s freezing. You’re exhausted and a tad dehydrated. However, your keys are nowhere to be found. Either you’ll have to walk another mile, round-trip to get your keys back from your friend’s house or you’re going to have to make a bed out of the front porch. In any case, this is a nightmare. One might even say it’s a scenario equivalent to a horror movie. A situation, you realize, that could have been avoided as you text your friend, asking if they see your keys among the pile of everyone else’s house and car keys. “If only my phone was my key,” you sigh, just before your friend confirms that your keys are, in fact, still sitting exactly where you left them.

Beyond the cheesy anecdote and attempt at making mobile access control relevant during the spookiest time of the year, there’s a feeling that most of us have felt in the pit of our stomachs when we realized we misplaced our house keys. There’s also skepticism about the new products and technology consumers are beginning to use to fortify their homes and offices. With the release of mobile access control products like smart locks and mobile key readers, many questions have come up. Such as: “How secure is it? Isn’t it connected to the cloud?What happens when your phone dies- how do you gain entry to your home or office when that happens?” All of these questions and concerns are valid, if you’re using a lock with hackneyed and vulnerable software. The fact of the matter is that mobile access control isn’t scary, and can even provide stronger security and more convenient access than traditional physical access control products. Here’s why.

1. The right mobile key software offers stronger security than the traditional lock and key.

Because of its ties to the cloud, most people question the security of mobile access control. However, if the lock is powered by software that uses tried and true methods of encryption, hacking into the system’s cloud should prove to be a nearly insurmountable feat. On the other hand, with the traditional lock and key, your home or office could be at much greater risk to intruders and bad actors. Traditional locks are susceptible to lock picking, lock bumping, and other ways burglars will find to circumvent the thousand year old piece of security. The other downside to the traditional lock is that it’s a bit rigid in the amount of options you have to recover access to your home or office. If you lose your keys, you’re stuck with having to pay a locksmith to rekey your lock, and having to print more keys. With RFID you have more options available to you. It’s much easier to reissue an RFID Key card than it is to rekey a lock, but as far as security goes you’ll find that key cards are no safer than traditional locks.

Thanks to several devices that hackers can find online, the security that RFID key cards are supposed to provide is relatively easy to dupe. With certain devices, if a bad actor wants to enter your office or (in some cases) your car, they can simply draw upon the signal that the radio-frequency is emitting, and with the device, copy the data onto their own key card. This is just one way that hackers can create vulnerabilities in RFID/ Key card access control systems. Moreover, both forms of physical access control don’t allow the same level of control and supervision over the system as mobile access control.

2. Mobile = More Control and Round the Clock Monitoring

With mobile access control, you can keep a better eye on your home, office, and car. Most mobile access control systems, take the Kwikset Kevo as an example, allow you to check on the lock status of the door (whether it’s locked or unlocked) and track the history of who has accessed the door and when they accessed it. Moreover, with mobile access control you have the ability to manage and govern when individuals can enter your home or office from any remote location, either by a mobile app or a web application. You also have more than one way to enter your home than through your phone. Most smart locks and readers work with key fobs and cards, so if you ever find yourself in a situation where you don’t have your phone on you or your battery is dead, you always have a backup plan. With a traditional lock and key, you’ll be lucky to know who has a copy of the key to your home and/or office, especially if you have given a friend, family member, or dog walker a key to your home. With mobile you also have the ability to connect more supplemental pieces of security, which can also offer you a greater scope of control over your doors.

3. Mobile = Opportunity

It’s been about half a decade since the first smart lock was made available to consumers. Since then several other smart, connected devices like Ring doorbell, Nest Thermostat, Philips Hue Lights, and Amazon’s Alexa have integrated with smart locks to give homeowners and building managers more control over their properties. Imagine coming home from a lively, yet tiring Halloween party, unlocking your door with a simple touch to the deadbolt, and as you come home your smart thermostat adjusts to a comfortable 72 degrees, and your lights turn on to give you enough visibility to see where you’re walking at a nice, dim, night setting. Meanwhile, your connected security camera keeps a watchful eye on your front door. This same kind of experience (maybe minus the night setting) can be applied to your offices and at some point to your cars as mobile access control becomes a more mainstream means of physical access control and creating personalized, connected experiences.

Never Fear Being Locked Out

Most of us have experienced the haunting nightmare of misplacing our keys. However, now we don’t have to as several solutions, like UniKey’s mobile access control platform, have been produced to make sure we never have to feel the chill of being locked out of our homes and offices again. To learn more about the benefits and opportunities mobile access control can provide, visit www.unikey.com

Over the past couple of years there has been a lot of interest and global adoption of IoT devices and the smart and convenient applications they offer their users. Smart homes are now on the rise and following right behind this popular trend is the smart office. Below we discuss just a handful of IoT devices that can improve the efficiency, productivity, security, and overall company culture of any office.

1. Smart Thermostat

At one point or another, we have all sat in a stuffy or freezing office that has made us question whether the building had any form of air quality control installed. One of the better ways to prevent anyone from having to sit through an uncomfortable day at the office, is by getting a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats can notify the office manager when it needs any kind of maintenance before your air stops circulating and your employees shed their layers. They can also moderate the air’s temperature; keeping the air cool during work hours and raising the temperature at the end of the day. A simple and effective piece of IoT technology that could save your office from an uncomfortable day and electric bills.

2. Smart Coffee Maker

Most of your employees will appreciate a cup of coffee or two throughout the work day. They’ll also appreciate a smart coffee maker that can learn their coffee schedule, or can be controlled remotely from anywhere in the office through a shared mobile application. Some coffee makers can also learn how each person likes their coffee prepared and make them a latte or cappuccino. Others can also work with Amazon Alexa and the Google Home for voice control.

3. Smart Whiteboards

Smart Whiteboards, or “Smartboards”, are great tools that will ensure your team never misses out on any notes or concepts that were jotted down in a meeting. With these IoT devices, notes that have been recorded on the whiteboard can be saved and backed up to the cloud, and printed out later for anyone who missed any details. For best results, have a coworker with legible handwriting take notes on the smartboard.

4. Smart Conferencing Tools

Thanks to modern technology, we no longer need to be in the same room in order to hold a meeting. Video chat conferencing through Google Hangouts or Skype make remote work possible, while also providing a more personable and effective way for businesses and coworkers to work and communicate with one another from anywhere in the world. Additionally, tools like Google’s Hangouts Meet Hardware Kit makes it easier to sync up your meetings and keep everyone organized through seamless integration with G Suite, which includes Google docs, calendar, drive, gmail, and more.

5. eKey Kecards

Smart locks first made their way into our homes about half a decade ago. Now they’re making their way to our offices as a means of providing more secure and convenient access. The great thing about smart locks is that an office manager can keep an eye on the status of the main entrance from any remote location through a mobile app; ensuring that all points of access are secured at all times. They can also keep track of who has entered the office and when they were granted access. Moreover, if an employee happens to lose their digital eKey, a new replacement key can be sent to them almost instantaneously. Rekeying and spending more money on key cards is no longer necessary.

 

A Smarter Office is a Happier Office

As we mentioned, these are just some of the tools that can make employees happier and workspaces more efficient. With UniKey’s mobile key platform, many of these connected devices can be integrated and made to work with one another to create a smarter office space for all your employees. To learn more about UniKey, its smart lock technology, and all potential IoT integrations, visit www.unikey.com.

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.