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ASSA ABLOY Creates NFC Solution that Uses Phones to Open Doors, Grant Computer Access

The company's Seos system is being trialed around the world to provide access to secured areas and equipment via a tap of an NFC-enabled phone against an RFID reader.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 12, 2012Following several years of piloting custom solutions that transform Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled mobile phones into keys that can unlock doors, Swedish technology provider ASSA ABLOY has released a commercial version of the solution—known as Seos—which is currently being tested within hotels, offices, industrial sites and homes. This system enables companies or homeowners to provide specific individuals with access to certain doors, even at limited times, with an application on their NFC-enabled phone, or by using an add-on that manages the NFC access-control data. The Seos system utilizes iClass SE RFID readers and iClass credential software provided by HID Global, ASSA ABLOY's California-based division.

Work began on the solution years ago, says Daniel Berg, the VP of ASSA ABLOY's mobile keys division, when the company built custom systems for several customers using NFC technology to provide digital keys for the purpose of access control. Two years ago, the firm supplied an NFC-enabled access-control system to Clarion Hotel Stockholm, for a four-month pilot in which a limited number of guests received a Samsung NFC-enabled mobile phone loaded with the ASSA ABLOY software application required to manage read data. ASSA ABLOY provided the readers installed at the doorways, as well as another interrogator for checking out in the lobby, which enabled the deactivation of digital hotel room keys and the checking out of guests.

In offices and commercial buildings, security employees can use the Seos system to wirelessly send temporary digital door keys to the mobile phones of visitors and service staff.

HID Global provided technology for a similar test, conducted at Arizona State University in summer 2011, utilizing access-control readers in doorways, as well as NFC-enabled phones for trial participants (see RFID News Roundup: HID Global Launches Pilot of NFC Smartphones Carrying Digital Keys for Access Control, Announces BlackBerry Credentials). In this case, the company supplied HID's software, loaded on microSD cards containing a module that can function as an NFC passive tag and reader. The microSD cards, provided by Dallas, Texas, contactless-payment company DeviceFidelity, were inserted in students' phones—Blackberry Bolds, Apple iPhones 4s models and Android-based Samsung handsets. Both systems employ HID Global's iClass SE readers and iClass Seos credential software, but can function with other NFC readers as well.

"We've been testing the [Seos] technology around the world," says Berg—specifically, in Europe, North America and Asia. ASSA ABLOY has been providing NFC readers in access-control devices at doorways, along with the software application required on mobile phones and the secure delivery software infrastructure that determines who is authorized to enter a secured area, and when. The system offers other functionality as well, such as PIN codes that may be required, or the ability to revoke access to particular individuals.

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