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Taking the Pulse of Access Control and Intercoms

Taking the Pulse of Access Control and Intercoms
Users today look for the convenience of having multiple functions on a single device, and access control products with intercom functions (or vice versa) cater exactly to this ever-increasing need. Other technologies like IP-enabled and biometric features can also be seen in such integrated products more and more.

While the concept of layered security is becoming more prevalent, having access control and intercom systems installed separately can be troublesome, as they occupy more space and require two separate sets of wiring. ¨If two functions were embedded in one terminal device, not only would users have access control, but they also enjoy the added benefit of being able to communicate with visitors directly,〃 said Kai Liao, Chief Strategy Officer of the Tashi Product Line at Unitech Electronics. ¨An integrated access control and intercom system requires only one CPU, and all data can be shared on one single platform,〃 seconded Zhi Shi, Director of Presales at Anjubao Digital Technology, one of the biggest intercom manufacturers in China. ¨This will reduce the overall system cost in the long run.〃

In China, large dwelling units such as residential communities and complexes are common. ¨Almost every single unit in any given residential community is equipped with an intercom. For us, adding an access control function to the intercom is the necessary next step.〃 Shi estimated that some 70 percent of the housing units in Chinese residential communities have integrated access control/intercom products.

IP and Biometrics on the Rise

A common, traditional way of integrating access control and intercom functions is through analog circuits, such as a telephone line. Today, going through IP is the trend, and this could present a technology barrier for many. IP systems allow multimedia transmissions, such as voice, data and video image, to go through Ethernet connections without additional coaxial cabling. ¨Analog signal transmissions are not as fast as TCP/IP ones because copper wires are not anti-interference nor thunderproof like optical fibers,〃 said Shi.

An IP-enabled, integrated product, added Liao, allows users to speak to visitors at the main gate, as well as the various occupants in the same housing unit. ¨The system also allows visitors or tenants to record voice messages, which can be saved within the terminal disc and retrieved later.〃

Korea-based Union Community specializes in biometric access control, and all of its readers have an intercom function. The company has a stand-alone or networked fingerprint entry system that serves as a door lock system. ¨It has a color CCD camera embedded with intercom function and the system offers clearer images and voice of visitors when connected to a security server or a home server. We have installed many luxurious apartments or office buildings,〃 said Peter Park, Manager of Overseas Sales.

Park highlighted the importance of fingerprints by describing the companyˇs international patentpending technology that ensures fake fingerprints do not fool the readers. The companyˇs fingerprint recognition technology has passed a benchmarking test set by the Korean government. ¨It has successfully denied access for various fake fingerprint materials,〃 said Park. ¨Last year, fake fingerprint materials caused many critical problems for the personal information kiosks in Korean government agencies. To improve the situation, we have been asked by the government to integrate our sensors to these kiosks.〃

In the future, Park continued, it is expected that fingerprint recognition will become even more affordable as it continues to mature. Not only will it be seen in integrated access control/intercom products, but it will also be widely adopted in personal or office devices like cellular phones, PDAs, photocopiers and even automobiles.

Distribution Strategies

Anjubao determines its product development directions based on customer feedback it collects through its extensive network of branch offices in China. ¨We do not sell our products through distributors; every single salesperson or after-sales support engineer is employed directly by our headquarters,〃 said Shi. ¨This streamlines the feedback process.〃 A comprehensive evaluation is used to measure the staffˇs performance in collecting feedback. ¨We want our staff to proactively interact with our customers when they provide maintenance work.〃

While exports only account for a small percentage of Anjubaoˇs production, the company is setting up a new production line this year to meet the E.U. standards. ¨I believe our successful domestic experience in IP products can be duplicated in our overseas business,〃 Shi emphasized.

For Unitech, 90 percent of its products are exported overseas, to major markets such as the U.S., the U.K., the Netherlands, Germany and Russia. ¨Our six branch offices around the world have been set up for at least a decade,〃 said Liao, ¨so we have long-term relationships with local distributors and system integrators.〃

In the future, Unitech aims to work with companies like Cisco and Oracle. ¨The hot topic in the next few years will be intelligent living space; many IT companies have stepped into this field, and this has created new opportunities for us,〃 said Liao. ¨Our RFID product line has already earned many IT certifications; once our access control products are certified in the same way, they will act as intelligent edge devices and connect directly to the network installed by IT vendors.〃

Union Communityˇs finished products are sold to more than 50 countries, with end users like construction and building management companies. Major overseas markets include Japan, Vietnam and the Middle East. OEM products and security solutions are supplied to global security companies, such as ADT, Samsung, Assa Abloy and Mul-T-Lock, and ODM products are offered to some major Japanese brands.

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