Michal Kratochvíl, CEO of 2N Telekomunikace, discusses the latest developments in the access control market with HiddenWires editor Amy Wallington.
AW: What are the latest access and security trends for the high-end smart home market?
MK: The shift from analog intercoms to IP technology is the biggest trend shaping our industry right now. With IP intercoms, you get features like HD, incredible audio quality, and a huge range of integration options. HD video intercoms are already widely used in residential properties and in June last year we launched the 2N IP Style, a flagship intercom with the best video transmission and a 10″ touch screen.
The second trend is mobile. Mobile access systems were already in high demand before Covid, but the pandemic has accelerated this as they limit skin contact with shared surfaces and thus help provide a safe and secure home access experience. We believe that our latest technology, WaveKey, is a breakthrough in this area and that a contactless system with a mobile phone will become the norm. WaveKey technology can help manage contactless access to residential buildings and modern homes, as well as managing deliveries.
The third trend we see is the integration of new solutions such as mobile access control and video calls from door intercoms into home automation control applications. To be able to do this, your devices must be IP-based to be able to offer the appropriate APIs. It is also essential that you, as a manufacturer, can offer SDKs for your own application, so that it can be integrated into home automation applications.
AW: How have access and security solutions evolved for the residential market?
MK: Access control is constantly evolving to keep up with people’s changing lifestyles.
For example, our phones have evolved into essential tools to help us in our daily lives. Crucially for access control, this has led to a boom in home deliveries of groceries and other items – which has supported a huge increase in the use of mobile IDs in high-end residential properties. , as it can give people peace of mind to continue to receive safe and convenient home deliveries even when they are not at home. A video enabled app on your mobile allows the user to allow access to secure areas to drop off deliveries at a specified location. This could be a delivery room in an apartment building or a secure area in someone’s home. Above all, this technology can be self-installed by simply connecting to Wi-Fi, eliminating the risk of strangers entering the house.
AW: Since the pandemic, would you say the demand for these products has increased or decreased?
MK: Covid has also encouraged mobile IDs due to the huge growth in e-commerce that the pandemic has brought about. 2N’s Mobile Video service and app, for example, allows people to communicate with couriers and other visitors through their phones, even when they are not in the building.
More broadly, before Covid, our customers were primarily focused on convenience, flexibility and security, but times have changed. These factors remain important, but now they are also looking at ways to help occupants maintain social distancing and good hygiene. The value of technology in managing building access has become more widely recognized in the wake of the pandemic.
AW: What are the main features of an access and security system in a high-end home? What can they do and how do they improve the lives of homeowners?
MK: I would use our best-selling product, the 2N IP Verso, to illustrate the benefits that modern access control can have for residents of high-end homes. This intercom received the prestigious Red Dot Design Award and has been very popular for residential projects thanks to its modularity, luxurious design and improved capabilities. The modularity allows integrators to modify the functions of the intercom exactly according to the needs of the user. For example, if you select the Bluetooth module, it will allow residents to eliminate keys and entry cards and use cell phones as a means of identification to enter. To do this, users just need to install the 2N Mobile Key application on a smartphone. Users can then access it by pressing a button in the app or by simply pressing the reader. Even when residents are not at home, they can open the door with their app from anywhere in the world. Our system can also provide secure access to the parcel room. Residents can let couriers into the building through the main door and then into the parcel room using the mobile app.
We have also introduced services to facilitate the integration and administration of 2N devices via the Internet. Our free cloud service allows remote configuration of intercoms and access units using the My2N portal. The configuration is very simple and does not require any advanced knowledge of the network infrastructure. Many residents of high-end homes aren’t very tech-savvy, so this appeals to them. It is also completely secure, thanks to double encryption communication.
AW: What infrastructure (if any) is required to install a typical home security and access system?
MK: Our devices no longer need to be connected to a single local network. All you need is what is already available in most apartment buildings and modern homes – an Internet connection. No additional investment is required. Simply connect the intercom and answering units to the router. You can then add the devices in the My2N platform and set up free calls between them.
AW: Are there any security issues with home security and access systems? How to prevent them from being pirated for example?
MK: It’s more important than ever for users to be aware of any potential vulnerabilities that may exist in their systems to ensure that the appropriate security measures are in place. Consumers should look for excellent security standards, not just good user experience. Especially for this reason, we have our own 2N operating system to provide users with the highest levels of security and protect their personal data. No one wants to unwittingly give hackers the ability to access their personal information.
AW: Is it important to have flexibility with home security and access systems in terms of access methods, what it gives access to, who it can give access to? Why?
MK: Flexibility is definitely important. Our modular Verso IP intercom offers a range of fully interchangeable reader modules. Additionally, our range of readers includes options that support multi-technology credential types. By choosing a reader that supports both RFID and Bluetooth, or PINs and Bluetooth, owners can decide which access and security system is most convenient for them.
As for the platform itself, support for mobile credentials is increasingly becoming a core feature. Our own Access Commander software supports enrolling and managing Bluetooth credentials and has done so for some time, so just make sure the software is up to date. Choosing a system that provides flexibility is key to transitioning to new technologies, such as mobile IDs, as they emerge.
AW: What do you think is the most secure method of entry?
MK: Advancement in technology means there is a range of equally secure options available today.
In the past, for example, some people had security concerns regarding mobile access systems and some attacks have been demonstrated on Bluetooth communication in general. However, our technology does not use standard Bluetooth communication. Instead, we simply establish a connection via Bluetooth; our app creates an encrypted tunnel through which communication takes place using our proprietary technology. Therefore, Bluetooth communication is fully protected in our own secure channel. We used AES-128 and RSA-1024 encryption keys. It is essentially impossible to eavesdrop and misuse mobile credentials.
AW: Do you think biometric systems or facial recognition are the way to go?
MK: 2N favored mobile access control over biometrics, but each solution has its own strengths.
All credentials, including biometrics, must be stored in encrypted form, so there is no need to adopt a specific security solution for biometrics. As with all types of credentials, the database administrator must follow basic data processing principles, which may also depend on the culture of the companies processing the data. 2N is ISO27001 certified, which ensures that in addition to secure products, we have rigorous internal processes to ensure the security of our customers’ data. We also have a hardening guide that helps people configure their devices to minimize the risk of an attack.
In general, although we focus on mobile, we don’t believe that there should be just one “winner” in the battle between mobile and biometrics. Both can thrive because they meet different needs.
AW: What do you think will be the next step in access and security in high-end homes?
MK: We are seeing a rapid transformation in the residential sector, which presents great opportunities for our access control solutions. Our long-term strategy is to continuously invest in product development, which is the cornerstone of our business, and to deliver increasingly intelligent intercom systems. On innovation, 14% of our revenues are reinvested in R&D and our customers feel the impact year after year. To keep up with current IoT trends, we believe that product integration will be very important in the future, to add more functionality and security features.