Another challenge concerns usability. Currently, NFC devices need to be placed considerably closer to readers than many access control cards, he notes, which could make it more challenging to enter doors. One reason for this concerns existing levels of throughput available from common standards-based NFC technology, he says. He doesn’t think this will be a “showstopper,” however; it may only require “education and acceptance,” he says.
For organizations that don’t provide their employees with phones, it could also be challenging to ask workers to obtain NFC-capable devices and to download access applications, he says. Some organizations, such as in the government, may also not allow any phones into certain areas for security and privacy reasons, requiring workers to use another access method in these cases.
HID is working closely with numerous access control and other organizations to help overcome the technology challenges and to develop additional standards, says Adams. Phone-based access may also become more feasible over the next few years as the number of NFC-ready devices grows. Gartner estimates that by 2015, 50 percent of new smartphones will be NFC-capable, though the technology may be more commonly used for other purposes, such as financial transactions.
A key determinant in the success of phone-based access may eventually be the user’s experience, says Adams. If such technology appears to slow users down in gaining access, for example, it “might be looked at as ‘well that’s neat, but my card gets me through just like that.’”