Near Field Communication (NFC) Smart Locks

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Near Field Communication (NFC) Smart Locks

The growing smart lock industry globally comprises Bluetooth, WiFi and Near Field Communication (NFC) enabled devices; however, little information is publicly available to differentiate among the usage and adoption of each technology within the market. As a result, factors influencing the residential and commercial market segments have mainly been provided with regard to the smart lock industry as a whole with the assumption that it is representative of those using NFC-enabled locks but where possible, specific information regarding NFC smart locks is given. Growing interest in smart homes is the driving factor of the residential market. In the commercial market, the need for secure access systems in hotels, co-working spaces, small businesses, university campuses and vehicles has led to the adoption of NFC smart locks.

Residential Market Segment

Smart locks are increasingly becoming staples in households as more people move toward "smart home" automation. Smart security systems are one of the first points of access into the market and many homeowners use a smart lock as part of the larger system. In general, multiple sources indicate that smart locks are becoming popular in residential applications because of their increasing affordability and convenience.
  • According to a survey administered by Parks Associates, 25% of American households planned to purchase a smart lock in 2019. The results indicated that consumers were attracted to these devices because they have become more affordable, accessible and convenient.
  • Worldwide, there is an increasing number of smart homes and smart security systems are the most commonly owned smart home device, which is expected to propel the use of smart locks in residential applications. Experts agree that more consumers are purchasing these smart home products to make their lives easier, save time and money, and stay safe.
  • The implementation of home smart locks is more widespread among consumers in higher-income countries and urban areas where the population is already aware of the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected devices as it relates to smart homes. Typically, persons in these regions value comfort and convenience, and are open to paying higher prices to achieve them.
  • However, to give an idea of the increasing affordability of these devices, in 2015 Yale debuted an NFC-enabled residential deadbolt for $225 while Samsung currently sells a keyless, NFC-enabled deadbolt for $180, a 20% difference in costs over the past 5 years.
  • One significant factor driving the use of smart locks in residential applications is the rise in home thefts and burglaries in recent years. For example, there were approximately 2.5 million home invasions in the US in 2016 costing an average of $2,230 in losses per break-in. As a result of this, more persons are investing in smart locks over traditional locks as they are perceived to offer peace of mind and greater security, especially with regard to digital entry logs and access management.
  • Within the residential segment, another use case that has influenced growth in the market is giving temporary access to houseguests, service providers (such as cleaners and technicians) or Airbnb guests. These locks allow homeowners to give these persons access for the necessary time and then to remove any privileges after they have left, thereby improving the security of the transaction.

Commercial Market Segment

Within the commercial segment smart locks have long been used by the hospitality industry, especially in the form of hotel room keycards and fobs. This industry is expected to continue to lead the commercial market growth of smart locks, including those using RFID/NFC technology. However, other sectors that are finding applications for and implementing this technology include co-working spaces, small businesses, higher education institutions and the automotive industry.


  • Approximately 650,000 hotel locks worldwide are already configured to work with NFC-enabled smartphones since hotel rooms have been using NFC chips and key fobs for access for many years. A key reason why this technology was implemented is that these digital locks can be changed without hassle so that old hotel key cards are no longer useful after checkout. Additionally, owners can provide a record of door openings for security and liability purposes.
  • In recent years, there has been a surge in the number of co-working spaces (approximately 1,000 new properties opened in 2018) as estimates suggest 33% of the workforce are independent or freelance professionals. Security needs for these buildings are complex and recommended measures include access control door readers and smart locks, both of which may use NFC technology.
  • Small businesses have been leveraging the increasing affordability of smart lock technology to protect interior doors. According to Brad Aikin of Allegion, the cost to install traditional access control systems used to be $3,000-$3,500 per door, requiring several hours. However, smart lock systems now only require about an hour of installation time and costs about $1,000 to $2,000 so that money and time are no longer prohibitive.
  • NFC technology has also long been used for student ID cards. It is now being tested on university campuses to make accessing dormitories, gyms or restricted buildings more convenient but also more secure without the use of a student ID card. For example, there is a partnership between Apple and Duke University to restrict access to a chemistry lab using an NFC chip embedded in the door so that students can only enter by tapping an enabled iPhone or Apple Watch.
  • The automotive industry is one more that has adopted NFC smart locks. The Car Connectivity Consortium released a specification Digital Key 1.0 promoting the use of smartphones and NFC technology to unlock, lock and start a car. Automakers such as Audi, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo have already begun to support the initiative. The move toward keyless, NFC smart locks for vehicles is also aimed toward making car sharing and car rentals easier and safer.
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