The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the network of internet connected physical objects – “things”. Today there are more than 7 billion IoT things. Experts are expecting this number to grow to 22 billion by 2025.
Examples of IoT objects include smart doorbells such as Amazon’s Ring, smart lighting such as Philips Hue lightbulbs, smart electricity meters, and smart door locks.
Many household objects are getting IoT upgrades with the addition of sensors; connectivity and related chipsets; integrations to cloud computing platforms; machine learning; big data analytics; AI; software and apps.
Amazon Ring’s IoT doorbell doesn’t just ‘ring’, it also has an inbuilt camera and microphone so you can view and speak to whoever is at your door on your smartphone. Ring can even help catch criminals – Amazon has forged video-sharing partnerships with more than 400 police forces across the United States, granting them access to homeowners camera footage and a powerful role in what the company calls the nations “new neighbourhood watch”.
In the past your household things usually just did this one ‘thing’ – for example the washing machine’s thing was washing clothes. The record player played records, the doorbell rang, and the lock unlocked.
Adding IoT to locks means the old metal key can be upgraded to digital keys and do so many more things. Access can be restricted to certain users for specific locks for any date and time from your smartphone. The digital key can be duplicated on cloud-based software platforms and emailed to anyone anywhere in the world in seconds.
The IoT lock can also send notifications of unlocking events to the asset owner/managers phones – this is helpful for tracing people’s movements across various sites.
Other IoT locks features include remote unlocking from anywhere; live status updates of door activity (e.g open/closed); managing multiple locks in the one cloud-based software account and cancelling digital keys in an instant.
Taking it a step further, IoT not only increases what an object can do, but it also increases it benefits. For example, we mentioned how IoT locks can track users’ movements across various sites - this is beneficial for meeting Government OH&S requirements and for insurance purposes.
What really makes IoT devices interesting is exploring their outcomes. The outcomes are the result of the objects benefits - just as the benefits are the results of its features.
The outcomes of the IoT lock will vary from industry and to industry. In some cases, the outcomes can perpetually roll on and on to other related outcomes, especially when you throw big data analytics into the mix.
A hotel for example with IoT locks can offer smartphone self-check-in with digital keys on their own guest loyalty app. The outcome is the hotel does not have to staff a reception desk 24/7 saving them time and money. The outcomes for the guest are good too - no need to line up to check-in and go straight to your room and unlock with your digital key.
Another outcome for the hotelier with IoT locks is a competitive advantage over rivals. Hotels with reception desks only open 9-5 may miss out on guests’ bookings, especially for those late-night flights.
The hotel owner can use the guest loyalty app as a new booking channel too, saving 10-30% commissions to the big Online Travel Agencies like booking.com. A guest is motivated to use the hotel app to book so they can download their digital key and get into their room.
The hotel could even use the app to push notifications to the guest in the form of discount vouchers to local restaurants and attractions saving guests money whilst offering affiliate program commissions to the hotelier and driving new business for locals.
With IoT locks there is no risk of people copying metal keys and giving themselves unauthorised access at any future date and time – a great security outcome.
Hoteliers can save even more money by ending lockouts with IoT locks too – they’ll never have to pay a locksmith again to come out and change the locks every time a key is lost or not returned.