Allegion futurist looks into his crystal ball

Company has big plans for ISC West 2017
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Friday, March 17, 2017

DUBLIN—Security Systems News caught up with Allegion futurist and VP of strategy and partnerships Rob Martens to get his take on the top emerging technology trends in the industry, from big data and analytics to AI and robotics, as well as the company’s plans for ISC West.

On a personal level, Martens is doing a presentation on April 6 at ISC West on what he calls “enhanced design.”

“This is a huge topic and an unbelievable opportunity for our industry,” Martens told SSN. “This is one of those where you truly need to embrace the change, and if you do, you can be insanely rewarded but if you don’t you could be punished.”

He pointed out that enhanced design is the idea of incorporating new technology into the aesthetic and functional design of a project—creating opportunities to make a home or a building safer, more efficient and more convenient.

“The real concept of enhanced design is—especially for integrators and security professionals—how do we help these architects, who are already pretty burdened, integrate in this new technology at the beginning of the design process, because it will fundamentally change the way that an architect designs the interior and potentially even the exterior of a building,” he explained. “But in order to do that, we’ve got to be more than wire pullers or mechanical security guys.”

From an Allegion standpoint overall, Martens said the company will be very focused on “electro-mechanical convergence—how devices that have historically been mechanical in nature, effectively integrate electronics, software, and play well within more complex ecosystems,” he said. “The big announcement for us is that our Engage platform is expanding hugely, to include many more products, so that level of connectivity is now getting rolled out and becoming a reality.”

Looking beyond ISC West, Martens said that the way the industry responsibly leverages all of the data that is available today continues to be a hot topic.

“The data in the more tech-driven opportunities that you are starting to see people embrace, not only are they inevitable but they are crucial to the growth and the health of our industry,” he asserted. “And with more people concerned about their data being sold, crowdsourcing data to create better experiences—while keeping individual user data private—will only become more important in 2017.”

One of the mega trends that he is seeing is differential privacy, which in simple terms, is the ability to collect data without collecting specific data about a person. “So there is an ability to protect people while still extracting beneficial things that allow you to recognize big opportunities and use that data effectively,” he said. 

He noted that the utilization and application of tools like differential privacy are going to be a really important part of the debate around: What do you want to extract and why?

The key, said Martens, is that everything is getting faster and cheaper—storage, the sensors that collect the data, the pipelines that transport the data, and the tools that sort the data into useful, clean and analytically capable intelligence.

“So I think the security industry is going to benefit hugely and I am very optimistic about the inclusion of meaningful data into physical tools and managerial tool sets,” he said. “I think we leave a tremendous amount of productivity on the table every day, and you will continue to see more key decision makers on a project, such as the CIO and IT person, working closer than ever with integrators and security professionals to bridge that gap between physical security and digital or IT security.”

The growth of intuitive interfaces and the emergence of AI will also see continued growth this year and beyond, noted Martens.

“AI is multiple levels and many flavors, from chatbots to more complex voice interfaces,” he said. “It is not just its ability to crunch numbers, and give you the right answers at the right time, but also the nature of the interaction itself. How intuitive or frictionless can we make it? And how can we make the technology so everyone can use it?”

Where AI gets interesting in security is how fast it can analyze all of the data that is being produced.

“If you look at IBM’s Watson platform, for example, it is looking for statistical anomalies across mountains and mountains of research, and Watson exponentially speeds up that evaluation process that would take someone, such as a doctor looking through cancer research, years and years to complete. And the applications on the security side are endless. What that is ultimately going to do is give the user better and more control than they have ever had before and if they want to cede some of their activities so they can focus on other things, they will be able to do that.”

He pointed out that robotics “is the physical manifestation and a great and meaningful extension for the capabilities associated with AI. Drones can do the job of many security guards, and you can use unmanned vehicles in manufacturing and all the other things that people have said, but there are some really excellent and interesting use cases for robotics in a security environment as well.”

Augmented and virtual reality will also play a role in making security much more intuitive and frictionless. “People think headsets right away, but AR is just another user interface for the technology that is in the building, and it can help a technician, for example, do his job faster and more effectively,” he noted. “AR is overlaying information over a picture, so if you are using AR as a service tech coming to do an audit, for example, and you have never been to the building, when you get out of your car and turn on the camera on your phone, all of the sudden the devices that are within range are going to call out to you and alert you to any issues, from a battery to an audit that is needed, and also give you the fastest route through the building to get to each device.”

Another technology that will help improve the overall user experience, as well as help protect systems from ransomware, is the cloud.

“I see greater adoption of cloud-based solutions,” he said. “The truth of the matter is, if you are worried about ransomware, you are a lot better in many cases ceding that control to the experts in the cloud than trying to protect your own local network. Who has better resources to defend your network? [Amazon Web Services] or your local IT guy?”

Another factor that will drive the cloud forward is the introduction of 5G. “The amount of data that is going to be available through 5G is so staggeringly huge, the response times for huge amounts of data are just milliseconds, so any concerns that people had about if it will be fast enough will no longer exist.”