Articles by Rob Martens
Rob Martens, Allegion's futurist and director of connectivity platforms, is a leading strategist on the Internet of Things (IoT). He will be a featured panelist at the IoT Global Innovation Forum in April. In the following interview, Martens unfolds more about Allegion's IoT position and strategy. Question: There's a lot of buzz about the IoT. How is Allegion playing in this space? Rob Martens: Allegion is very active in the IoT space and is widely respected by many other peer organisations for our strategic vision. We occupy a special place as a visible market leader in both the residential and commercial spaces. Allegion has been among the first to understand that IoT is not a grab-bag of apps and smart devices; it is really about how a building responds to users, anticipates their life, and allows users and the environment to adjust to one another. Our most buzz-worthy offering in the residential market is the Schlage Sense – a next generation solution that is specially designed to work with Apple's new HomeKit platform among others. On the commercial side of Allegion's business, we also have many connected products, but the most visible today is the Schlage NDE Series Locks with Engage technology. It is a solution that allows facility owners to make an investment in the future technology while still leveraging the embedded tools and infrastructure that they have today. Question: What distinguishes Allegion from the start-ups that are pitching their new connected products? In other words, why should customers buy from Allegion? Rob Martens: Start-ups tend to sell a vision of a product to garner funding and then try their best to deliver it. Many times, that ends badly – especially when hardware is involved. When we announce a product, we have the credibility in the market that not only do we actually have a solution that works, but that it will meet the quality they expect from Schlage. I guess the real question you have to ask is, "Would you want to buy a lock from a software company? Or from a company that has almost 100 years of experience doing it?" Question: What is your favourite feature of the Schlage Sense lock? Allegion has been among the first to understand that IoT is not a grab-bag of apps and smart devices; it is really about how a building responds to users Rob Martens: First of all, the lock looks like a piece of jewellery – I think we have really upped our game from a style and design perspective. There are some amazing product features with the Sense. If I had to pick, I like the "talk to unlock" feature that leverages Siri. A close second would be the accelerometer alarm feature…to have a lock that is smart enough to distinguish between a kick-in attempt and a door slam is, as my friend from Boston says, "wicked cool." Question: Which recent industry trends have caught your attention as things to watch? Rob Martens: Style and design are key differentiators in the marketplace in addition to software and hardware functionality. While embedding technology like accelerometers in our product and having intuitive apps to operate them are important, it's not the only key to success. People won't buy a smart device unless it captures their personal style too. I think we are making great contributions and have the opportunity to lead the industry in this fusion of technology and style. Innovation can and should be beautiful too. Question: Besides Allegion products and your iPhone (of course), what's your favourite connected device and why? Rob Martens: I have many, but will call out three: I love the Honeywell Lyric Thermostat. It leverages geo-fencing technology to manage the environment in your home, real time, rather than being a "learning thermostat" where it tries to track my patterns (I'm a bit chaotic). The iDevices Switch is a really cool accessory for HomeKit that is multiple devices in one and responds to voice commands. Lastly, I really like Chamberlain's MyQ product; it allows me to monitor and manage the position and status of my garage door from anywhere.
Allegion Ventures, a US$ 50 million corporate venture fund of Allegion plc, has expanded its strategic portfolio with an investment in Mint House, a startup that’s revolutionising the hotel experience for modern business travellers through technology-aided amenities, such as secure mobile check-in and keyless entry, digital concierge services, customised pre-stocked grocery delivery and more. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed in the release. Strategic investment portfolio In late 2020, Allegion Ventures also announced an investment in Kasa Living, a company using technology-powered innovation to provide flexible stay accommodations across the U.S. The fund’s President, Rob Martens, stated that these two startups are driving new value for customers in a post-COVID-19 world. The Allegion Ventures investment thesis, to make security and access smarter, stronger, faster and less intrusive" “The Allegion Ventures investment thesis, to make security and access smarter, stronger, faster and less intrusive, is aligned with the experiences both Mint House and Kasa create for their business and leisure travellers,” said Rob Martens, who also serves as Chief Innovation and Design Officer at Allegion. Need for seamless access Rob adds, “As the need for what we call ‘seamless access’ has been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are opportunities across not just the hospitality market, but also commercial and institutional real estate, to innovate and delight customers, while also helping them safeguard their health through smart technologies.” With their own access control and technology expertise, the Allegion Ventures team can help both Mint House and Kasa deliver on their unique value propositions of improving guest experiences through secure touchless technology and contactless check-in and scaling operations, among other things. Secure touchless and contactless access “It’s always been our mission to fundamentally improve the lives of road warriors who are tired of the legacy, box-like hotel, whether they were staying for two nights, two weeks or two months,” said William Lucas, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Founder of Mint House. Honoured to have Allegion Ventures on our side as we continue to expand and innovate in short-term rental space" William adds, “Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mint House’s model has proven to be ahead of its time as our tech-driven concept offers a safe, reliable option that corporate travel managers feel confident in booking for their employees. We are honoured to have Allegion Ventures on our side as we continue to grow, expand and innovate in the short-term rental space.” While a strategic focus on seamless access and people flow is not new to Allegion Ventures, the COVID-19 pandemic has re-enforced the value in this sector. Several other Allegion Ventures portfolio companies have also created innovative solutions for customers in the wake of this global health crisis. Smart workplace analytics platform Allegion Ventures portfolio company, VergeSense, for instance, is providing its customers with smart, data-driven perspectives on space utilisation, through its workplace analytics platform. This technology collects data on the movement of people throughout a space and notifies users, when capacity is exceeded or when a space isn’t being utilised effectively. With social distancing efforts still the recognised best practice for stopping the spread of COVID-19 virus, safe occupancy and efficient use of space is the key to an effective return-to-workplace strategy for companies across industries. VergeSense technology suite The VergeSense technology suite also monitors when a space needs to be cleaned What’s more, the VergeSense technology suite also monitors when a space needs to be cleaned, by capturing how many people have used it. This allows decision makers to clean a space that actually needs to be cleaned, instead of spending money, time and resources on one that is unused. Similarly, Robin Powered, Inc. (Robin) has innovated for the new workplace normal, providing technology to return to the office safely and plan hybrid work schedules. The Robin platform allows employers and facility managers to assign who has access to specific desks, spaces or rooms, and when. It also empowers employees to safely coordinate trips to the office, so as to collaborate with their colleagues. Mobile-first, cloud-based access control In addition, renowned technology solutions company, Openpath released a hands-free ‘Wave to Unlock’ feature for its mobile-first, cloud-based access control solution, helping reduce common touch points at building entrances. It also provides a data platform with remote management capabilities for those facilities managers or decision makers who may still be working from home. This frictionless experience prioritises health and safety for all. “For businesses and communities to open up and regain a sense of normalcy, travellers as well as property owners, tenants, employees, visitors and others need flexible and adaptable solutions,” said Rob Martens, Chief Innovation and Design Officer at Allegion. Rob concludes by stating, “Seamless and convenient experiences through touchless technologies matter now more than ever. At Allegion Ventures, we’re excited to be investing in and partnering with innovators who are making a difference and adding value in the new normal.”
ONVIF, a global standardisation initiative for IP-based physical security products, has announced that it will be presenting at TechSec Solutions 2018, as part of a panel discussion on trends in new technology in access control. Bob Dolan, who sits on the ONVIF Technical Services Committee, will be one of four panelists discussing ‘Access Control Holds the Keys to New Tech'. The panelists will examine how far access control has come, where it is headed, and how it will help to shape the future of the physical security industry. Dolan, who also serves as the Director of Technology, Security Solutions at Anixter, will provide perspective on how standards such as those provided by ONVIF can extend the possibilities of access control through interoperability with other technologies. Smart building environment “Access control technology is poised to play a pivotal role in the future of our industry, as physical security continues to integrate with other technologies in a smart building environment,” said Per Björkdahl, Chairman of the ONVIF Steering Committee. “Bob will provide insight on the importance of standardisation and how ONVIF specifications can assist in implementing access control in conjunction with new technologies, including data analytics, biometrics, IoT and building automation.” Other panelists include Rob Martens of Allegion, Gary Larson of AMT and Peter Boriskin of ASSA ABLOY Americas. The panel will be moderated by Pierre Bourgeix, President of ESICONVERGENT.
The Schlage LE wireless mortise lock with ENGAGE™ technology is easy to install, connect, manage and use Allegion, a global provider of security products and solutions, announced it will showcase its latest innovations, including the new Schlage® LE wireless lock during ISC West 2017 between 5th-7th April in Las Vegas. Shlage LE wireless lock The Schlage LE wireless mortise lock with ENGAGE™ technology is easy to install, connect, manage and use. It was developed for facilities that want to upgrade to electronic credentials for improved security and efficiency – making the LE lock ideal for interior and perimeter office doors, resident entries, common area doors and sensitive storage spaces with a mortise door prep. The LE lock is the latest addition to Schlage’s wireless portfolio, which also includes Schlage Control™ deadbolts and NDE cylindrical locks. Designed to bring electronic access control deeper into the building, these wireless solutions enhance user experience from installation and beyond. Schlage’s wireless locks are among the products being featured this year. Designed to bring electronic access control deeper into the building, these wireless solutions enhance user experience from installation and beyond “The Schlage wireless family opens the door to electronic access control beyond the perimeter of a building by making it easier than ever to upgrade traditionally mechanical doors,” said Brad Aikin, Allegion electronics portfolio leader at Allegion. “As technology continues to evolve in the physical and digital worlds, so does Allegion. Our goal is to enhance end users’ overall experiences with every solution we help deliver.” The Path to ‘Enhanced Design’ Additionally, Allegion Futurist and Vice President of Strategy Rob Martens will present on the latest technology trends and the impact they will have on the security industry during his presentation, “The Path to ‘Enhanced Design,’” at 7:30 a.m. PT on Thursday, April 6th. “The adoption of new technology in the commercial space continues to evolve, and it’s enhancing convenience and efficiency for our customers,” said Martens. “It’s becoming more and more important for the integrator to not only understand but adopt the technological transformation of our industry to better serve customers.” ISC West is the largest physical security event in the United States. Allegion will be at Booth No. 20015 from Wednesday, April 5th to Friday, April 7th at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, educating the more than 28,000 industry attendees on cutting-edge solutions. As a proud supporter of ISC West, Allegion will sponsor the exhibit hall grand opening at 9:45 a.m. PT on Wednesday, April 5th.
As a “futurist” for lock manufacturer Allegion, Robert C. Martens says he is “part strategist, part predictor” – looking at megatrends, current events, technology changes, and how those changes impact Allegion’s business customers and partners. Spanning both the commercial and residential businesses, Martens considers various scenarios for business leaders and partners, specifically regarding where technologies and electronics are going. Today, he spends a lot of time thinking about the Internet of Things. Martens sees a tremendous amount of “disruptive innovation” in the market, specifically in the residential market where the Internet of Things (IoT) will be a huge force, led by “mega-tech” companies such as Apple, Google and Samsung. He expects the disruption to spill over into the commercial markets sooner or later. IoT is compelling and is here to stay! IoT may be a buzzword, but it’s an older term that’s been around since 1999. It’s also a trend that’s here to stay, whether we like it or not. Driving the IoT is a proliferation of lower-costs sensors, combined with burgeoning availability of inexpensive bandwidth, and less costly computer processing. In fact, sensor costs are down 50 percent, bandwidth costs are down 50-fold, and processing power costs are down 60-fold since 2010. Taken together, this is a formula to combine massive amounts of data with low-cost processing to analyse the data to find patterns in the seeming chaos. “It sounds confusing, but it doesn’t have to be,” says Martens. “Everyone has the ability to play there. It’s not a space that will exclude people, it’s just a matter of what level they engage.” The IoT is a broad term that encompasses connected homes, smart automobiles, wearables, smart cities and industrial automation. IoT represents the third evolution of the Internet. The first came in the 1990s when there were about 1 billion people communicating through PCs and desktop computers. In the early 2000s, about 2 billion were connecting using mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones. Projecting progress of the Internet of Things, there may be between 50 and 200 billion IP-connected devices by 2025. Sensors will send data via the Internet with no human intervention. “There will be an exponential leap in the amount of data being thrown to the Internet,” says Martens. Allegion’s Robert C. Martens sees a tremendous amount of “disruptive innovation” in the market, specifically in the residential market where the Internet of Things (IoT) will be a huge force, led by “mega-tech” companies such as Apple, Google and Samsung Mega-tech companies will drive IoT The interest of mega-tech companies in the Internet of Things will drive how technology is implemented. For example, Apple’s HomeKit is a built-in iOS 8 feature that allows iPhone and iPad users to communicate with and control products in a connected home ecosystem. It promises a more integrated, holistic experience for home automation. A homeowner can tell Siri to unlock a door. Martens expects more dominance of networking standards such as Bluetooth Low Energy (LE), low-power WiFi taking the place of radio communication standards such as Zwave and Zigbee. Rather than communicating with each other, devices will be communicating via the cloud using application protocol interfaces (APIs). Power and connectivity still a challenge? Power consumption is always a concern for IoT devices, especially locks. Allegion has a HomeKit-enabled lock called the Schlage Sense that uses Bluetooth LE to enable batteries to last more than a year. Martens also points out that connectivity won’t be the deciding factor for homeowners’ lock purchases anytime soon. Rather, people will still shop for individual locks and other devices, and connectivity will be flexible. For its part, Allegion is looking to make its locks as flexible as possible – able to use various platforms. Homeowners can operate the devices alone, or put them together will compatible platforms. “Our goal is to load the lock with as many options as possible, so however you want to access that door, you can do it,” says Martens. An example of new lock functionality is the use of accelerometers in locks that can sense the difference between a door that is slammed or kicked in (which could be tied into an alarm). An autolock feature allows a door to lock automatically after 15 seconds or 2 minutes (selectable), thus increasing security if a homeowner forgets to lock the door. IoT crossover from residential to commercial “More and more people are walking through the door wanting to use their phone. We are seeing significant amounts of automation moving into the commercial space. IoT is only going to move as fast and be as successful as integrators allow it to be”, predicts Martens As home automation catches on, it’s just a matter of time before end users begin expecting the same automation experience in the commercial setting. “It’s happening. The real question is how long before people say, I have this at home, I need it at work,” Martens says. You can already see the early signs with a shift toward the idea of using a smart phone in lieu of a card-based credential to open a door. “More and more people are walking through the door wanting to use their phone. We are seeing significant amounts of automation moving into the commercial space. IoT is only going to move as fast and be as successful as integrators allow it to be. If integrators drag their feet, other integrators will take their place. It is absolutely a requirement for someone with tribal knowledge of security for IoT to become a reality. You need physical security knowledge. The people who drive it, they are going to see a significant surge in demand for their services. “Disruption is flowing from residential to commercial,” Martens says. “As a leader in the commercial and residential space, we [at Allegion] get this, we see the disruption. It’s a matter of change management, a question of whether the integrator community is ready to take this on. I’m confident they are starting to. The people I fear for are those who think it’s a flash in the pan. It’s not, and those who get a head start will do extremely well. It will be a fantastic business, all it does is expose more their deep, rich knowledge [of security]. Somebody has to put sensors in the right order to do it right.”
Where do traditional security dealer/integrators fit in the new era defined by the Internet of Things (IoT)? According to Robert C. Martens, Allegion's Futurist and Director of Connectivity Platforms, there is no need to worry. In fact, there is potentially a huge role for traditional security integrators to play in the IoT age. His explanation suggests a successful future for security integrators, but there are caveats. Networking IoT devices may seem like an information technology (IT) function, typically handled by a chief information officer (CIO). However, says Martens, CIOs will be preoccupied with complex issues far beyond physical security. Therefore, identifying where IoT sensors are placed, how they are managed and how they interact will fall to facility managers. And they will depend on their security integrators’ expertise more than ever. Role of security integrators “Integrators are the glue between the facility manager and the CIO,” says Martens. “Trusted advisor, mentor, and mediator – these are all roles integrators will need to play to avoid the disruption we have seen in other industries.” "Even with the IoT, it’s still the application of the technology that matters, that generates value", says Rob Martens As a trusted advisor to CIOs and facility managers, security integrators can provide an important perspective about the basics of physical security. Martens compares the integrator’s role to that of an orchestra conductor (assuming, in his metaphor, that the various sensors and devices to be installed are the musical instruments). “Every device in a building plays a distinct note, and the integrator helps get the notes in the right order. What you need is a conductor, and the integrator is the conductor. All those pieces of hardware are becoming more and more intelligent. But we’re in the safety and security business, so it’s the application of the technology – the tribal knowledge, the root knowledge of security – that makes integrators the ones to lead.” For example, as a security specialist, an integrator would know that whether a door opens must depend on determining the intent of the person seeking to enter. Use of various voice, biometric, or physical key technologies enables a system to understand that intent – but an IT professional wouldn’t know how to implement the various technologies to determine intent. “An integrator understands at their core what an IT person might not understand. That’s their value-add, their tribal knowledge. Even with the IoT, it’s still the application of the technology that matters, that generates value.” "Whether security, energy or convenience, each integrator gets to decide where they inject value" “Integrators can say ‘devices need to be put in this order together, play in this order,’” Martens says. “There’s no substitute for understanding physical security.” Role of physical security manufacturers What is the role of manufacturers in the Internet of Things? Martens says the priority has to be making the integrator’s job easier, making systems that interact well together and that are easy to install. He says end users will be looking for a more “holistic” experience, whether in a residential or a commercial building. “If you do security and energy well in a building, and add convenience, you can deliver a truly personal experience, more holistic. That’s what people are striving for, the promise of the IoT.” “People still buy products from the people who are knowledge experts within the space,” he adds. “Just because you have a cool connected product, it doesn’t make it a great fit.” Smart physical security devices “Folks in commercial physical security are starting to recognize higher expectations to provide more connectivity, new features, greater functionality – whether you’re a manufacturer, a facility manager, an integrator or a locksmith,” says Martens. “For manufacturers who embrace it, it’s a pathway away from commoditization. If I can take the humble door lock and transition that to a smart device, there’s a lot of value to that. People touch doors almost more than anything else in a building.” “On the commercial side, having the integrator understand what the devices are capable of is very important. That could be an integrator’s calling card – integrators will be known for different things. Whether security, energy or convenience, each integrator gets to decide where they inject value.” Success may be within reach, but it’s far from a given.