For the last several years, all that most people had to remember when they leave is to grab their wallet, keys and smartphone, but soon, all you may need is your smartphone.
Smartphone software platforms such as Google Android, Apple iOS, BlackBerry and Microsoft Windows Phone have enabled software developers to create all sorts of applications. At the same time, emerging technology like near-field communications (NFC) has made it possible for people to complete transactions by waving their smartphone near an NFC reader. Google Wallet is the most well-known of these mobile payments systems. But NFC is also being developed as a way to open doors with an NFC-based reader that recognizes you.
So, in essence, you may no longer need to grab your keys and wallet when leaving the house – just your phone.
Ingersoll Rand is a global industrial company that makes everything from air compressors to drills, refrigeration units to HVAC (heating ventilating and air condition) equipment. But it also has a Security Technologies group that offers a security app for your smartphone.
At the DEMO 2013 Conference last week in Santa Clara, Calif., Ingersoll Rand demonstrated aptiQMobile, a system that uses an NFC app on your smartphone to open doors and provide access to people with the proper credentials.
Many of you are familiar with access cards that admit you to your hotel room or let you into the office building where you work. The aptiQMobile system delivers the functionality of a key card to a smartphone, said Diane Kehlenbeck, director of technology alliances at Ingersoll Rand. She was demonstrating aptiQ at DEMO, where dozens of other entrepreneurs demonstrated their inventions and presented them to a panel of judges.
AptiQ (pronounced app-TEEK) Mobile is a Web-based credential management system designed so that credentials can be issued over the air to a device, turning an NSC-enabled smartphone into a mobile credential, Kehlenbeck said.
She cited the example of a university using aptiQMobile to issue credentials to students who would have the credential e-mailed to them, they would activate it on their phone and then use the app to gain admittance to campus buildings, their dorm room, pay for food on a university meal program, or gain admission to sports events on campus.
“Students always have their phone in their hands, and most people do nowadays,” she said. “Now people can use something they’re already carrying around and it’s so much more convenient than having to dig through your backpack or your briefcase, wherever your credential might be. Now you have it in your hand and you’re good to go.”
AptiQ also saves students and their school the hassle of issuing access cards – all the back office IT that goes with that – and students waiting in line to pick up their cards. The school just e-mails a message to students that lets them activate the app.
AptiQMobile runs on Android-based devices from Samsung, HTC and Motorola and on Apple iPhones, but only on iPhones with a sleeve peripheral adapter that adds the NFC functionality, she said. Apple does not natively offer NFC capability on its devices.
The aptiQMobile system could also be used for office workers to gain admittance to buildings and for guests staying at a hotel, she said. A car sharing service, such as Zip Car, could use aptiQMobile to let customers into the car they are renting for the day with a smart card that they would wave over a reader on the car’s windshield to unlock the doors.
AptiQMobile works anyplace where somebody has to prove who they are and that they have permission to go through that door.
“This kind of opens up doors of new opportunities,” Kehlenbeck said, with no trace of irony.
The only catch is that the aptiQMobile app only works with an aptiQ reader from Ingersoll Rand. Although Ingersoll Rand has a significant installed base of readers on the market, if they have another brand of reader aptiQ won’t work.
But this NFC market is emerging, though maybe not as quickly as some would have hoped.
Still, there are always entrepreneurs thinking of new ways to deliver NFC technology. A few years ago, I did a story on a San Jose company named Rhomobile that was working on NFC technology to make purchases in a retail store. And this is just one of several articles I came across that shows that NFC technology is on the horizon that could start your car. Another reason to forgo grabbing your keys when going out.