We’ve been doing access control systems for a long time. The majority of them are controlled by cards and/or fobs, and some of them are in some way integrated with your alarm system.
There are two main goals of these types of systems. The first is to only allow those with a valid access card to enter the building/area that is walled off by the access system. The second is to audit trail the comings and goings in your home/office.
The systems work. Period. They are popular because they become an invaluable tool for both home owners and businesses for reasons I don’t have to explain to people who need them. Card access is, in the case on many of our clients, an essential service they simply cannot live without.
As I dove into the home automation field I had more and more home owners approach me about ways to apply the same principals do their homes, but without needing to use cards or fobs to provide the opening. Things like blue tooth locks come to mind when we look at remote opening, but they typically do not come with on-board audit trailing and the best ones come with a smart key application that, as we talked about in an earlier article, is unreliable to say the least.
There are two options (with a few hundred set-ups) for key-free opening with audit trail on a system that is not card controlled. Both are controlled by a smart phone, and both rely on some third party applications that are simple to install but may require some setup assistance.
The first is what is called geo-location.
If you’ve ever used the map application on your phone, you know that the GPS satellites out there can pin-point your position on a map very accurately. Within 100 meters or so, in most cases. In the case of geo-location (geo-fencing is what they call it officially), you can program a device in your home to know you are within a 100 meter radius of the home and unlock your doors.
It sounds convenient. It IS convenient. But if you open your phone and measure out how far 100 meters is on a map… it’s far. And if you’re like me, you pass within 100 meters of your home on a regular basis with no intention of stopping there. In many of my friends cases, they have a corner store or a friends place that is within 100 meters of their home.
In other words, 100 meters is an impressive radius for satellites in space to be able to detect your presence, but it’s not accurate enough to be relied on for homes in most cases. Only larger lots and business should be thinking about this application for geo fencing.
We’ll talk about fencing later. It has some great uses. Just not unlocking your doors. If someone tells you fencing is reliable enough for unlocking your doors, go elsewhere.
The second method for proximity opening is called pinging.
Pinging is when a home automation hub is programmed to look for a specific IP. When the IP is present on the network, the hub executes one command and when it’s not, it executes another.
In simpler terms, as you come home from work your smart phone comes within range of your home network. Your home network connects to your phone and you are on WIFI. Your home automation hub sees that your IP has connected to the router, and unlocks the door for you. And as you leave, it happens in reverse.
Same as an access card, you have to set up and program the credentials of any phone you want to be capable of doing this into your automation hub. You also have the ability to delete their clearance.
Personally I prefer pinging to fencing, simply based on the proximity factor. If my house is open, I want the unlock triggered by my presence on the lot. If I’m not there I want it locked. Geo-Fencing doesn’t let me do that. Wireless detection let’s me do that.
With all this said, never ever ever ever ever EVER ADD PROXIMITY LOCKS TO A HOUSE WITHOUT AN ALARM SYSTEM. Preferably hard wired, but at least on a proprietary operating system. If you don’t know what a proprietary operating system is, give us a call. There is a lot of stuff out there posing as security equipment right now. Let’s avoid it.
Drop us a line there or call us. Message us here or send us an email. We know how interesting this all looks. We just need to make sure it’s done the right way.
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