Wearable Tech Shakes up Access Control


Brivo Labs was into wearable technology long before wearable technology was cool.

"The lanyard with an access control card on it is a wearable, so we've been in it for years," said Lee Odess, general manager of the Bethesda, Md.-based company that has sold access control products for 15-plus years.

About a year ago, Brivo Labs decided to get into the burgeoning market for enterprise wearable technology. The overarching goal, Odess said, is to make access control and security "more contextual and dynamic."

To do so, the company created an API called SAM and a reference application for Google Glass called OKDoor to "show the flexibility of the system and start a conversation around wearables in the workplace."

OKDoor interacts with an exterior camera and pushes a photo of a person seeking admittance to a building to a Google Glass wearer, who can then remotely allow entry or deny access.  The app showcases several capabilities facilitated by the API, including device management, access to hosted IP video and remote automation.

In August Brivo Labs rolled out Randivoo, a cloud-based app that streamlines the identity and access control process and puts more control into the hands of users. The app can be used with a Nymi wearable, which employs an identifying "signature" based on a wearer's heartbeat. In the future, it will work with other wearables as well, Odess said.

Because Randivoo was developed on the Salesforce1 development platform, organizations can interface with Salesforce systems to create meeting invites and email attendees a security token such as a QR code that attendees can download and present digitally upon arrival. Using information pulled from Salesforce, organizations can create personalized messages for guests and provision access to the appropriate areas with digital locks and readers. The software can also determine whether a guest is an occasional visitor or a more frequent one such as a contractor or other business partner.

Wearables Challenge Security Status Quo

Brivo Labs wants to "challenge the security status quo," Odess said, by "giving you a choice with how you interact with a physical space instead of having it dictated to you." Access control does not typically offer a positive user experience, he said, citing the example of a baseball fan with box seats at a game. What should be an enjoyable experience is negatively impacted because a ticketholder often must confirm his or her identity multiple times during the game.

Similarly, Odess said, "99 percent of people who come to your place of business are supposed to be there." Access control should only make it tough for the bad guys and not everyone else, he added.

In addition to improving user experience, access control via wearable technology also strengthens security. Wearables offer "a fantastic way to do multi-factor authentication," Odess said, which is a recommended security best practice.

The SAM API and applications like Randivoo are designed to disprove the notion of security software as a necessity with a somewhat fuzzy return on investment, Odess said.

"Historically security systems have been seen as a utility. You have these big, clunky systems that are very siloed because they are difficult to integrate," he said. "We put the utility in place with all of the security functionality, but we open up the data aspect of it so it can add value to the marketing department or the operations team. So instead of just being seen as an expense, security can be seen as adding more explicit business value."

Ann All is the editor of Enterprise Apps Today and eSecurity Planet. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade, writing about everything from business intelligence to virtualization.