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Integrated Systems - News

Apple’s new iPhone announcements: What is the impact on the physical security market?

When Apple makes a new product announcement, the whole technology world takes note. Such was the case last week when the tech giant introduced its sleek and shiny new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Almost as an encore, the company also unveiled the stylish and versatile Apple Watch, which will be available in early 2015.

We have all seen the impact of mobile devices on systems and technologies used in physical security, so any new smart phone products have the potential to impact our market. In the case of the new Apple products, the initial enthusiasm surrounding the new products provides some useful hints of that future impact.

We have already noted Apple’s advance introduction of the HomeKit standardised network protocol as part of the new iOS 8 software development kit, which is paving the way to connect more devices in an automated home. Turns out that’s just one of the ways the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus could impact our market. Here are a couple more to consider:

We have already noted Apple’s
advance introduction of the
HomeKit standardised network
protocol as part of the new iOS 8
software development kit, which
is paving the way to connect more
devices in an automated home

The new iPhones embrace Near Field Communication (NFC). We have heard a lot about NFC as a technology for physical access control systems. However, the talk of late has cooled based mostly on the fact that Apple had not included NFC capabilities in its immensely popular products. With Apple holding out, the argument goes, the market for NFC can’t reach critical mass as an alternative to physical access control cards. The release of the new iPhones changes all that. The new products embrace NFC in a big way as essential to the newly unveiled mobile payment service called Apple Pay.

Ensuring safe communication of credit card information. In addition to all the other gadgets Apple iPhones have replaced, the company is now looking to replace our wallets using the new mobile payment service. Apple says security of the service is far superior to the use of credit cards we carry around in our wallets. The system encrypts information and stores multiple credit cards in Passbook. Each transaction generates one-time payment numbers and dynamic security codes (instead of using credit card numbers). All the payments are tied back to the user’s iTunes account, which accesses various credit card accounts. If you lose the iPhone, you don’t have to cancel the cards – just suspend payments using the “Find My iPhone” app. What future opportunities might there be to use similar processes to communicate and preserve unique identity data for physical access control systems, for example?

The iPhone 6 can "replace a video camera." Apple says the iPhone has already replaced point-and-shoot cameras, and the newest versions are aimed at replacing video cameras, too. Several technologies help to improve the quality of the video, including "Focus Pixels," a new sensor that helps the iPhone focus faster, better and automatically. The new camera “helps with both shaky hands and low light,” says Apple. Video stabilisation makes it much more likely a video will show clear images. We are already seeing professional video management systems (VMS) that are equipped to access smart phone video, especially in an emergency. How soon might systems rely on nearby smart phones as a component of surveillance? Police searched through hours and hours of smart phone video in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. Given the video advances of the new iPhones (and other smart phone devices), video captured in future such incidents is likely to be clearer and better.

With Apple holding out, the
argument goes, the market for
NFC can’t reach critical mass
as an alternative to physical
access control cards

Apple has a well-earned reputation as an innovator that guides the agenda of technology development throughout the consumer market. Our smaller market feels the aftershocks when Apple makes a move, at least to the extent that physical security intersects with the consumer market (and it does in a multitude of ways). Commercial customers want their security systems to offer the same level of convenience and efficiency as their consumer products. Home security customers want their systems to interface seamlessly with their tablets and smart phones. Apple (and other consumer electronics companies) may chart the course, but delivering on the full potential in our market is a goal of the physical security suppliers. As of this week, Apple has again raised the bar.

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