How Touchless Technology and Partnering is Future-Proofing the Built Environment

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By Allegion Ventures President Rob Martens

When looking at recent trends in technology, it’s clear that things were already moving towards hands-free. The rise in smart-home devices and voice-activated tech was trickling over into offices and commercial applications well before the beginning of 2020. As we look at the rapidly changing nature of the workplace moving forward, technology will continue to play a vital role in helping businesses and commercial property owners adapt. Touchless technology is changing the office landscape for the better, creating healthier workplace environments and making them more accessible.

As a strategic investor, Allegion Ventures sees its role is to open doors and build bridges for its investment portfolio companies. Allegion regularly works on proof of concepts and pilots. Recently, the corporate venture fund held a CEO Summit with Openpath, as well as Robin, VergeSense and HqO to talk about growth, partnering and common opportunities. Touchless technology is a prime example of where we see future opportunities to integrate and make a difference in a post-COVID world.


Touching less in the wake of the pandemic

While hands-free smart tech was a nice-to-have amenity going into last year, the pandemic accelerated the need for touchless technology. Companies that were already developing or implementing these features were ahead of the curve. Now, contactless office environments are becoming more and more necessary for people to feel confident that their workplaces are safe and healthy.

One of the first places on any building that people touch is an entry door – and for employees, using a common reader and door handle to get inside is often the norm. Sometimes that entrance may be shared with visitors, too – or tenants from other surrounding offices. Particularly in a post-COVID world, creating a touchless entry experience can be key to helping people feel protected as they go about their day.

By partnering with others that are specialists, companies can bring solutions to market quickly. Openpath – a leader in mobile and cloud-based access control solutions, an Allegion Ventures portfolio company and an Allegion product integration partner – was able to pivot their innovation to add contactless entry as a feature on their system early in 2020. Rather than requiring people to touch a reader or enter a code on a PIN pad, Openpath’s Wave to Unlock feature utilizes mobile credentials to enable users to unlock the door with a simple wave of their hand or phone. Paired with Allegion’s automatic operators and touchless actuators, the system not only unlocks the door, it also opens it – completely hands-free.

While this feature is excellent for those returning to worksites, touchless access will likely prove to be a continued trend in the future. With one less thing to worry about, people can get where they’re going faster. And, with touchless technology that’s part of a reliable partner ecosystem, property owners can be assured that their investment is prudent. Removing common touch points fosters peace of mind today and as needs grow, it helps make the building experience frictionless and appealing for tomorrow.


Creating a more compliant workplace

Touchless access control is not only convenient, it also creates an inclusive experience by making buildings more accessible for everyone. All property owners should be conscious of local, state and federal ADA compliance requirements for their buildings. Noncompliance with ADA standards is more than just a barrier to inclusivity. Legal cases involving businesses that fail to adhere to the guidelines can be costly and time consuming. However, investing in the right building technology, and consulting an expert on ADA compliance in your area, can help business owners avoid these all-too common pitfalls. And, it’s the right thing to do.

A modern access control system is an important investment for commercial property owners that can also help them create a more compliant building environment. Mobile credentials provide additional convenience for tenants and visitor management and are often more secure than some outdated legacy key card systems. With touchless access solutions, unlocking and opening the door is also easier for people with disabilities. There’s no need to fumble with badges or keys; the user just needs to have their phone nearby when they approach the reader or controller.

Automatic doors are often a compliance requirement for commercial spaces but for some building owners the expense and tenant disruption cause hesitation. One option is a combined access control and door opener hardware system can easily overcome this hurdle, especially for retrofit deployments. With a touchless entry system connected to automatic door opener hardware, people with disabilities can still easily gain entry with a simple wave or tap, and don’t have to worry about maneuvering to open a cumbersome door. And there are a variety of additional solutions you can choose from to electrify an opening for touchless operation: auto-operators, electric strikes, exit devices, touchless actuators and more. As a best practice, we recommend working with a security expert to understand codes and safety concerns and to install door readers and hardware at the proper placement for inclusive use.


Long-term benefits of touchless technology

True touchless technology is more than just a quick fix. Now more than ever, tenants expect frictionless workplace environments, with technology that’s simple, effortless and doesn’t disrupt the day-to-day flow. For example, touchless and mobile access control solutions help reduce bottlenecks in crowded lobbies, remove the hassle of remembering a key card or badge and also improve building security. And these benefits will only grow over time. Consider this: Seamless access of the future will be intuitive in helping people manage their movement not just within their workplace, but to and from their workplace, home and communities. 

These solutions can increase property value and help to future-proof buildings over the long term. To maximize ROI when choosing touchless technology investments, business owners should look for providers that prioritize frictionless interoperability. Utilizing cloud-based platforms with open APIs and mobile SDKs gives businesses the ability to connect their building systems, paving the way for automations that streamline and centralize their operations. Likewise, as artificial intelligence and data science develops, building owners and managers will gain increasingly valuable insights to make buildings smarter, more efficient and a better experience for those who work, live and visit.

When it comes to the frictionless offices of the future, touchless technology is just the tip of the iceberg. With companies continuing to partner and innovate new ways to remove common barriers and create more inclusive workspaces, investing in smart technology is essential for future-proof buildings.  


Whitney Moorman - Reputation Management Leader

Source: Allegion PLC

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