Ringing in the future


With advances in the smartphone market, is NFC set to surpass the traditional lock and key?

We rarely go anywhere without our mobile phones - they have long surpassed being used just for calling to say we are running late or for short conversations - we now rely on them for many of our business needs and the variety of convenient applications they can provide to help us in our daily routines. But is the smartphone also about to signal the end, or least of a pocketful of keys?

With the advent of access cards, the importance of the traditional mechanical key has diminished with smart cards becoming increasingly capable and intelligent. And with the latest advances in access control technology, there is now the potential to do away with the need to carry keys by embedding portable identity credentials or "mobile keys" into smartphones.

Commuters already use their phones as tickets or boarding passes in many European countries and in Japan, and NFC payment systems are now installed in restaurants, shops and even taxis. On college campuses, students can use their phones to enter buildings, buy lunch or act as student identification during exams. NFC phones can even be used to provide doctors access to your medical history.

In the business arena, achieving convenience without compromising security is the biggest challenge. Just last month, we announced the completion of two pilot programmes that achieved just that. Both Netflix, the world's leading internet subscription service for TV and films, and Good Technology, a secure enterprise mobility solutions provider, validated how mobile access control using NFC-enabled while maintaining their physical enterprise security.

With this level of trusted flexibility and attractive ease of use, it is only matter of time before our daily checklist of 'keys, wallet, mobile' is simply reduced to making sure we have our mobile phones since they can contain everything we need.