Advancements in commercial, residential markets drive innovation (Source: Security Info Watch)

Reprinted from Security Info Watch

Las Vegas – When it comes to its approach to technology Nortek Security & Control prefers cutting edge to bleeding edge. Nortek solutions span legacy to advanced offerings, with interoperability, flexibility, and expandability being key elements of its business credo. The Carlsbad, California-based company is a leader in the security, smart home and wellness technology markets and has more than four million commercial, residential and personal systems deployed. Nortek also services more than 20 million connected wireless devices.

Nortek executives like to say that innovation and manufacturing excellence is their DNA as they push technology boundaries to meet their goals of cost-efficient and connected systems. For Robert Beliles, Nortek’s VP of Marketing and Product Management, bringing his expertise in cloud-based services and the rapidly evolving world of IoT technology to the company has been a good fit as he and his team eye the future. Beliles is an IT-centric industry veteran, with stints in executive management with Tyco, Hewlett-Packard, and Cisco Systems.

Security Technology Executive Editor-in-Chief and Editorial Director of SouthComm Security Media had an opportunity to pose several questions to Robert Beliles this week about Nortek, the industry and the future of technology.

Lasky: With the rapid advancement of today’s technology, what is the roadmap Nortek Security & Control has formulated to address the needs of both end users in the commercial space and systems integrators?

Beliles: Recognizing our mission is to make security and building automation easier to install and use, we have developed a five-phase strategy that guides the roadmaps of our personal, residential, and commercial product lines.

Keeping the focus on commercial, for the end users of our systems, it starts with our Access Control product line.  We are making it easier for “good people” to ingress and egress as evidenced in the BluePass and Tele-Entry announcements. We will go further and have the goal of providing seamless access.  Whether it’s a person or an asset or a combination of the two, we can do some things there, particularly as we leverage technology from other parts of our business.  For the system operators and owners, we expect to bring more insight and context so that people, property, and assets are more safe and secure.  We will make it easier and faster to identify and react to various events.

For our channel partners, we are looking more deeply into the common challenges they face in selling and supporting our products, as well as the challenges they have with competitive offerings.  We see some opportunity to improve in both areas and believe we have the insight and technology to make a difference in installation and configuration.  We have done that with residential systems and know we can do much the same for commercial systems.  We also continue to challenge ourselves on identifying and creating more opportunities for value-added services and RMR.

We are also making sure we have channel-friendly solutions that don’t exempt our dealers and systems integrators from being successful.  For example, as part of our BluePass access control program, we have created a channel-friendly approach to selling and issuing mobile and virtual credentials rather than excluding them from the opportunity.

Lasky: Given your footprint in sophisticated wireless and IP solutions for both commercial and residential sectors, is there a business strategy for implementing the evolving Internet of Things solution into Nortek Security & Control’s portfolio?

Beliles: As a security, home automation, and health & wellness technology company, IoT has been a part of our DNA and strategy for many years.  Virtually every product we make is intended to be connected to another system or device whether it be wireless or wired, IP or legacy.  Eventually, all the data generated and communicated is processed by a policy or “rules” engine that captures the data processes it into information and /or commands other devices to take some other action.

As part of our five-phase vision and strategy:

  1. We have combined security and automation into single systems – our 2GIG all in one residential system would be a good example (we call this the Unification phase);
  2. We made it possible to configure and execute increasingly complex policies and report the outcomes to a wide range of devices including smartphones, tablets, PCs, etc. – we introduced touchscreens and smartphone apps on our residential systems as well as some of our commercial security products. We’re calling this the Orchestration phase.
  3. We are in the midst of voice-enabling several systems (based on our acquisition of Nuiku in 2016) to make it significantly easier to install, and configure those policies, rules and/or scenes as well as making identification and authentication of users easier with mobile credentials.  Some examples include our GC-2 and GC-3 panels, Numera personal devices and our new Tele-Entry System (visual cues and verbal guidance) and our new BluePass mobile credentials and readers. We’re calling this the Simplification phase.
  4. It won’t be too long before low-power or even energy harvesting devices become inexpensive enough that they can be deployed virtually anywhere and everywhere.  The data that comes from all those sensors will allow us to execute highly contextualized policies based on a combination of factors such as a specific person, a time of day, an environmental or personal condition or preference. Our GoControl and Linear branded products will likely be beneficiaries of sensor proliferation. Not surprisingly, we’re calling this the contextualization phase.
  5. In the fifth phase, we expect that we will be using artificial intelligence and sophisticated algorithms the will learn and create countless policies.  Additionally, we expect miniaturized IoT wearables — derived from our Numera Personal Health and Wellness products — will provide even more personalized data that can be acted upon to deliver highly personalized, context-aware, interaction between people and systems as well as other systems and various devices.  Some of these interactions will be completely developed by the systems themselves, with little or no input from the owners of these systems.  Predictably, we call this the Personalization phase.

Of course, for all this to work and avoid systems being compromised, we will increasingly provide additional cybersecurity capabilities to protect the systems and sensors as well as the data they collect and use. And we do have a few “rules of the road” such as be flexible and agnostic on various technologies, including wireless protocols.  We can partner with other vendors from inside and outside our industry to deliver complete solutions for our customers.  Occasionally challenge our own technology beliefs.  Don’t be afraid of disrupting ourselves.

At the core of our intrusion detection, access control as well as personal emergency response systems you will find a policy enforcement engine that consumes all sorts of data from various types of environmental and security sensors, credential readers, accelerometers, video analytics.  Those policy engines then take action, share the event/data with other systems

Lasky: What do you see as the most dynamic trends driving access control in today’s market and how is your company looking to stay ahead of the curve to serve your clients? 

Beliles: It’s an exciting time to be in the industry, so many trends and possibilities, keeping the focus on access control:

  • Disruptive technology and business models
  • The increasing ubiquity of smartphones and smart devices.
  • Low power and low cost, as well as compound sensor technology
  • Analytics-driven insights and anomaly detection
  • Cloud-based services (SaaS, Paas, IaaS) – the proliferation of just about everything as a service

In terms of staying ahead of the curve, we hold discussions on what NSC will need to look like 10 years from now, based on what we agree are best bet trends and emerging technologies. From there we work backward to five years out and then figure out how we go from what we are doing now to that five-year mark.  It helps keep us straight in terms of what is strategic versus opportunistic.

Innovation round tables where we pick a few problems and brainstorm on how we might go about addressing the problem is also something we do.  That’s led us to file a few patents.  Still, you have to really listen to what our channel partners are telling us and observe how end customers go about their days.  But at the same time, we encourage our PLMs to work more with our dealers and are increasingly using them to bounce ideas off of them.  People become a lot more forthcoming when you engage them regularly.  But we have plenty of room to improve on this thought.

Lasky: Perhaps no current technology has seen more dynamic growth and technology migration than video. What vertical markets do you see driving this growth and why, and what technological advancement in video surveillance do you view as pushing growth?

Beliles: Video has delivered a fair bit of value to the retail market.  Coupled with analytics, it’s providing some interesting insights into customer behavior.  That translates into more revenue as retailers can take advantage of those insights.  We see analytics helping in a number of markets and applications based on behavior.  Of course, video is also playing a big role in the automation of a great many things, including automotive applications.

In terms of technological advancements that will aid video surveillance, continuing increases in computer capabilities to support more sophisticated and accurate video analytics is a big driver.  Augmented reality, which is video with superimposed computer generated images or helpful data about specific items, will also impact a good number of markets.  It clearly is helping in medical and various industrial applications.

Anytime you can closely relate video to revenue increases, cost savings, or productivity (whether it be at home or work), it will pay big dividends.

Lasky: As almost every physical security solution migrates to an IP-centric platform, discuss some of the most critical technologies you feel Nortek Security & Control needs to develop or build upon its current offerings?

Beliles: In general we have many of the “puzzle pieces” we need to execute our five-phase plan. We have automated building system monitoring and control capability with our GoControl product line. We have some Cloud-based capabilities with Nuiku Natural Language Processing, as well as Numera health and wellness products.  We definitely will need to expand in this technology area. We also have the basis for interactive health tracking devices and physiological sensors with Numera products.

Our security and environment sensors and rules engine from our 2GIG product line as well as policy engine in our Linear e3 access control products can be further leveraged, along with the identity and physical presence detection capabilities from our Linear Access Control products that will help a lot in terms of getting us to the fifth phase, we call “personalization”.

Lasky: When it comes to the smart home movement, where does Nortek Security & Control see itself today and five years down the road as technology continues to evolve?

Beliles: We have more than 20 Million IoT sensors and another million Z-Wave devices deployed today.  So, we feel Nortek Security and Control is at or very near the epicenter of smart home technology growth.  We are in a pretty good position in terms of leveraging the proven and highly reliable platform of a security system and connecting that to our home automation hub or subsystem.  If you add in the audio and video automation capabilities from our sister business, Core Brands and the Elan system, you have a pretty comprehensive offering.

Five years from now, we should be right there in achieving our vision for greater contextualization and, hopefully on the brink of greater personalization.  Of course, technology innovations have to play their part.

Lasky: Can you tell me a little about the top three new products you are releasing at ISC West.

Beliles: We are announcing a diverse array of products. These are the top three:

Rely, which is the industry’s smallest and sleekest self-contained Do-it-Yourself Security System with multiple professional monitoring options. Now, DIYers, renters, second homeowners and no-contract consumers no longer have to sacrifice stylish good looks of an elegant keypad-system controller or live with huge door and window sensors that interfere with window operation or window coverings or prominently protrude from door frames.

BluePass is a complete ecosystem of smartphone and tablet-based mobile-credentials,  user and dealer apps,  and multi-tech Bluetooth readers that provide a more secure, easy to use approach to commercial and enterprise access control.  BluePass will reduce Total Cost of Ownership by protecting the customer’s existing system controller and software investments and enables a smooth migration from legacy credentials by using both the multi-tech readers and a cloud-based credential issuance and management portal.

And finally, the e3 Tele-Entry access control system for multi-dwelling buildings and gated communities. It is designed for a new generation of users, where the Tele-Entry system simplifies the user experience and speeds up the process of locating and contacting residents with an intuitive 4.3” color screen interface that minimizes click-thru steps via visual navigation prompts and voice guidance.

Lasky: What do the new e3 Tele-Entry System and the new BluePass solution bring to the Linear brand?

Beliles: It’s all about the optimizing the user experience.  BluePass is launching at the same time as the Gartner Group is forecasting that 20 percent of all organizations will be migrating to smartphone-based credentials for their access control needs by 2020.  Moreover, BluePass allows customers to use their existing access control system thereby avoiding a budget-busting “forklift” upgrade. Plus the e3 Tele-Entry system modernizes the user experience making tele-entry access control more like using a smartphone.

Lasky: How have things at Nortek Security & Control changed since being acquired last year?

Beliles: Since the acquisition, we have increased our manufacturing capacity by 25 percent, we have added to our leadership team and begun to change the way we approach product definition and sales. President Mike O’Neal has picked up additional responsibilities in terms of related businesses with the inclusion of the GTO and Core Brands businesses which used to be separate from Nortek Security and Control.