IT · Lifestyle

Towards a Smart Workspace with IoT

passapp mQuBits founder co-founder

What is IoT?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a term that is causing a real buzz nowadays. It seems to affect not only the way we live, but also the way we work. The potential of IoT in revolutionizing and automating the workplace are endless. It literally gets rid of the barriers between your company and the outside world. If you are looking for a new way to work smarter, stay tuned for you are on the right page.

More people are connected to the internet now than ever before. According to Wikipedia, the number of users connected in 2016 was estimated to be 7.3 billion. But now we have reached the point where we must start to ask ourselves whether we, humans, are alone on the planet! Smart Things are also around us everywhere. Your personal computer, laptop, phone, office lock, and in some cases even your coffee machine are able to connect to the internet. Hence, the term IoT was coined to describe this new relation of Human-Human, Thing-Human, Human-Thing, and Thing-Thing interactive connectivity.

What is a smart lock?
As a professional, you will know that it is not uncommon to have a situation where a visiting customer or even a loyal team member is locked out of the office, because the person who has the office keys didn’t show up on time. Not only can this cause real embarrassment, sometimes weakening relationships with potential customers or undermining company culture, but it can also lead to a loss in productivity and the waste of anything from a few minutes to several hours that could have been spent productively otherwise. Is there a way IoT could help your company be more professional and dynamic, by helping to overcome this problem?

The answer to this is yes, and one example of IoT technology which is doing exactly this is the smart lock. Smart locks are locks connected to the internet with digital keys. You might share a one-time access key with a visitor or a multiple-times access key with an employee. The lock identifies the key holder and automatically opens the door, granting him or her access. Once your guest has entered the building, the door is automatically locked once again to prevent intruders.

How should you choose a smart lock?

There are quite a few smart lock vendors to choose among, with two such vendors being August Lock and PassApp. It’s worth mentioning that smart locks may be used as a supplement to traditional locks. I have undertaken a few preliminary checks to offer recommendations so you could choose the best fit for your workspace.

1- Usability

The first important check to undertake is whether the device is easy to use for the average person. Many smart locks may offer a whole bunch of fancy features, but at the end of the day it will often take you quite a while to figure out how to make use of basic tools to achieve full functionality.
This question of usability may also apply to how easy it is to install the device at the door. Most smart locks come in two pieces: an interior escutcheon and an exterior reader. Moreover, you don’t have to worry much about drilling, since they are designed to fit in the holes of traditional locks. This process of installation should take around 10 – 15 minutes.
Drawing both August Lock and PassApp to our comparison in terms of usability, it is quite clear that both are very easy to use and install. A distinction between the two should be made though, as PassApp is not only a lock, but also functions as a door sliding bolt for the different offices, departments and overall premises of your workspace. This means you can install it virtually on every door of your premise. For example, you don’t need an actual lock for the meeting room, but you may just need a door sliding bolt to control meeting scheduling and the attendance of invitees.

2- Maintainability

If the device breaks down, where do you go? Whom do you consult? It is, after all, just another machine in your workplace. That’s why you must always double check the availability of counterparts, maintenance, and technical support if it is to function properly. It is really annoying to have smart locks installed everywhere, but they are not working or they have broken down.
In reviewing the August Lock and PassApp warranty disclaimers, it is a relief to know that both guarantee the replacement of parts, the return of defective devices, and online technical support. However, PassApp stands out as a provider based in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) in terms of the quality of overall service. Making use of such a provider may save you, as a customer, from the pain of international shipping, customs, and soaring exchange rates.

3- Mobile Application

Again it’s wonderful to know that both vendors provide a mobile application on both Google Play for Android and iTunes Store for iOS. However, neither supports Windows Phone. This may be due to the fact that Windows Phone’s market share currently falls below 1% of the total smartphone market and appears set to be sinking even lower in 2017.

August Lock falls short in terms of the user experience, because you simply can’t ask every visitor to install August Lock in order to visit you once. Imagine if your visitor has to visit a few dozen other companies who all have different smart lock providers; it doesn’t make much sense to have all these different apps installed on his phone.

PassApp stands out once again as a universal pass provider. It doesn’t only work with smart locks and sliding bolts, but also cross operates with rotating gates. It features a few more pass options such as invitations, tickets, coupons, memberships and boarding. It is an all-in-one smart pass wallet.
However, if you’re an Airbnb regular guest or even a host, it is very convenient to use August Lock since Airbnb features August Lock for access sharing. The keys simply expire after your agreed upon checkout date. This can save you a few trips here and there for exchanging and replacing keys.

4- Auto Locking
It is nonetheless important to know what to do if you get locked out. August Lock still allows traditional keys to unlock your door from the outside. You may purchase a standalone external keypad for secret code access, in addition to a voice activation code with Apple’s Siri. August Lock is compatible with Apple Home Kit and many smart home features such as child tracking, pet access, dog walks, and even automated access for package deliveries. One more nifty feature is the Doorbell Cam, which allows you to have a video call with your guests.
PassApp on the other hand features an ecosystem for the smart workplace, with a web based software solution for tracking meeting room scheduling, parking lots, and employee attendance.

5- Connectivity
This is one of the most important factors to take into consideration, since smart locks function by allowing you to connect remotely using your device. Usually vendors support Bluetooth and WiFi, but PassApp also supports Wired and Mobile Data connection.

August Lock however stands out when it comes to interactions with other smart home devices such as your washing machine, lights and television. This is, as mentioned earlier, all available due to successful integration with Apple’s HomeKit.

Closing Thoughts
IoT opens the door to endless ways of working smarter to ensure a more productive workspace. Even though many may still be intimated by the prospect of losing an element of control to computers, it appears inevitable that office automation is the next new big thing. By embracing this, and taking the time to think about and plan how we want to make use of these devices, we can seize this opportunity to add significant value to our workspaces by harnessing the potential of IoT software.

Enjoy Reading my Technical Review on Law Today Magazine


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