Hady Abdelnour, co-founder of smart locking solution, Smarke, discusses how consumers can already ditch their keys and use a smarter way to get into their homes.

Smart homes, filled with connected products, are loaded with possibilities when it comes to making our lives easier, more convenient, and more secure.

According to Business Insider, the number of smart home devices shipped will grow to around 200 million in 2020, from a roughly 80 million in 2015. This includes smart appliances, smart home safety and security systems, and smart home energy equipment.

But what about home access? How will consumers access their properties a few years from now?

It’s unlikely that in a decade or so from now that consumers will still be carrying a heavy, cumbersome keychain loaded with keys to their home, office, car etc.

Instead, it’s likely that voice-activated home-assistants will control almost everything in a property, including opening the front door through a merger of facial recognition or other biometric data with artificial intelligence and fixed hardware. To arrive at this point there will need to be a standardisation in the way locks and doors are delivered to market. Millennials and digital affluents will drive the consolidation of different approaches into one universal standard with a secure digital touch point.

Home access and safety is changing; innovative companies are introducing products that will replace antiquated keyholes, peepholes, and doorbells, including smart locks, sensors, monitors, cameras, and alarm systems. For example, August sells digital keyless door locks and doorbell cameras that allow a homeowner to provide third-party remote access to their home.

One of the main challenges is the connection of these front- and back-end technologies with other home devices. They need to be able to exchange data, while keeping a high level of cyber security.

Security and convenience are the two most important issues; homes and offices have to be secure and prevent unwanted access, while at the same time allowing consumers to enter without jumping through inconvenient hoops or making the process overly complicated.

Ultimately, the home access and safety market will be ruled by the devices that can connect and integrate seamlessly with other home technology, offering maximum security, alongside simplicity and convenience. This is important because all home devices will ultimately run in an invisible background mode, controlled by an overall home intelligence system such as Amazon Echo or Google Home.

We’re already getting closer to this perfect synergy, with products like Smarke’s smart access solution, which can be used as a standalone product or integrated with other smart home hubs. Smarke focuses on allowing people to access their buildings and properties using their mobile phones – and it also allows them to share this access with others. Smarke is currently crowdfunding and has been attracting investment from the UK and abroad.

Smart locks might still be new to the market, but they will gradually become more prevalent as the concept of smart cities, connected buildings and homes spreads. Smart locks will be part of a broad home safety and access module that incorporates locks, external cameras and possibly even drones detecting people who are nearby.

Future smart homes will incorporate doors with built-in smart locking mechanisms and smart doors, possibly working on magnetic fields between the frames. Access to a building, home, car and/or office will be controlled by a central hub that runs face, eye or other biometric detection.

What we now refer to as a smart lock will in the future be a connected lock that communicates with other home connected devices via one truly smart hub controlled by an autonomous intelligent software and monitored by users via their mobile app or wearable devices.

Home access and safety technology will be one function of an end-to-end multi-functional smart home system controlling multiple sub-devices via a software and protected by strong cyber security controls.

It is too early to predict accurately which type of connectivity these home access and safety products will use in order to communicate between themselves and other external devices – but the race is on between Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Mesh network standards, such as Zigbee and Z-Wave, or other newcomers on the market. Look out for mobile operators trying to make a comeback on connectivity.

When it comes to access a controlled lock will run in a back-end mode. Alongside this front-end external cameras and drones will run multiple step processes, continuously monitoring activity. Once the system detects and finds a face trying to enter the home, it will run a facial recognition and identification test. If the person is identified, the system will decide autonomously whether to grant access or not based on its data or it will ask the tenant for instructions. The tenant will be able to monitor these activities instantly and interfere at will.

Today, the technology is still not quite there for homes and residential units. However, it is already used in high-security facilities such as banks, military restricted zones, corporations, and government institutions. The challenge is to replicate this for commercialisation and home use.

One final thought; this sort of access technology may make us all feel like James Bond (albeit without Q), but we must always question what will happen with all the data that our smart devices collect. Or do we ignore this aspect in return for feeling like 007?