OpenWays launches NFC hotel key system without SWP carrier costs
Posted by Seth PlanckJanuary 23rd, 2012 at 2:35 PM Filed Under Latest News, Videos
OpenWays launches NFC hotel key without SWP carrier costs with a little help from Nokia and NXP which can be added to existing hotel locks
OpenWays isn’t the first time we have seen an NFC hotel key system. If you remember VingCard, an ASSA ABLOY company launched a pilot in Stockholm last year. However, the emerging mobile network operator joint ventures and associated costs to firms that want to provision secure data over networks to secure elements has become costly at best. In essence, launching an NFC based company that needs to access a secure element has had costs added that prove too expensive for many firms to turn a profit.
Over at the Verizon stand at CES, we were told by one of their product managers that if the costs are too expensive the market will find a way. Case in point: A collaboration between Nokia, NXP and OpenWays, which has just launched its MOBILE KEY DUAL with Pure NFC hotel key system.
NFC as an enabling technology is all about simplifying processes and making transactions of data frictionless and contactless. That is true for NFC door locks and it’s true for NFC payments and mobile wallets. Of course, carriers are slowing down and over complicating an already complex ecosystem, but firms like OpenWays are finding ways around using the secure element and are now turning to peer-to-peer data exchanges that uses Crypto Acoustic Credentials to secure data over the normal data networks.
OpenWays Pure NFC in action video from the Wall Street Journal
”Equally important, the SWP standard drives the cost and complexity of implementation towards areas that hoteliers do not like,” Pascal Metivier said. ”It implies a long list of fees to pay to the mobile phone carriers and it places our brands and hotels in a state of dependency that is not acceptable. In addition, we felt that using a solution that would make us dependant on one lock vendor only was not a good idea.”
OpenWays NFC PURE hotel keys being trialled at Nordic Choice Hotels
As NFC smartphones are becoming more available and more consumers are carrying them in their pockets the opportunities are starting to become available for transitional services that are fully NFC capable and that also support the legacy magnetic card systems for hot locks. For consumers at Nordic Choice Hotels it means not having to check-in and out of hotels in a standard method. Check-ins are now facilitated through an NFC smartphone being used as an NFC hotel key which automatically checks hotel guests in. Yes, it’s another hotel in Stockholm that has taken up the gauntlet to adopt NFC into their infrastructure which both lowers costs and adds value added services to guests.
”Mobile Key works TODAY with ALL cell phones worldwide. With NFC (Near Field Communication) enabled cell phones gradually hitting the market in larger volumes during 2012 and 2013, we are pleased to announce Mobile Key DUAL with Pure NFC,” said Pascal Metivier, Founder and CEO of OpenWays. ”Mobile Key DUAL combines the established and highly ubiquitous CAC (Crypto Acoustic Credential) technology with both RFID and NFC technologies so we can offer the only ’fully deployable today’ while ’fully future proof’ solution to our customers. Thanks to Mobile Key DUAL, hoteliers can offer today a mobile-based front desk bypass solution to all their guests while being sure that the investment they are making is made for the long run.”
The Nordic Choice Hotels OpenWays project is a pilot program to assess how the system works, and if using NFC throughout the hotel for both guests and staff works and reduces overhead.
“When Nordic Choice Hotels conducted an NFC key pilot in 2010 at our Clarion Hotel Stockholm property we learned that mobile keys are the future for hospitality. We also learned of some limitations to the technology and it was decided not to expand the trial,” said Svein Krakk, Nordic Choice Hotels’ CIO. “Indeed the pilot we ran was very educative and helped us identify several areas that needed to be improved in order to make NFC viable within a hospitality environment.
“The No. 1 priority for Nordic Choice Hotels is to provide freedom of choice for our guests,” Krakk said. ”Freedom to choose the phone you prefer, to use any mobile operator, to use mobile keys or ordinary keys independently or in combination. We started looking for alternative technologies addressing some of the shortcomings of the pilot. First the user interface needed to be improved. With the latest generation of NFC phones it is not very easy for the end user to figure out how to position the phone vis à vis the lock reader. We also wanted a solution that bypassed the SWP protocol which is designed to make the solution mobile operator and mobile carrier dependant. The pilot was limited to one mobile operator. More than 1,500 mobile operators / carriers exist around the world and our guests could come from anywhere, so offering a solution that works only with one or a few carriers would be pointless.”
”Pure NFC allows adding NFC features while still being fully carrier and lock provider independent,” Metivier said. ”It is highly secured and operates on trusted networks. It leverages modern cryptology combined with highly secured OTP (One Time Password) principles. Implementation costs are significantly lower than with the sole SWP protocol and significant engineering efforts were invested in making the user interface intuitive. This was achieved with the design of very specific RFID antennas designed to provide high reading performances with the next generation of NFC handsets. Other areas of focus were ergonomics and human factors. With NFC, what appears to be a good idea — because you simply have to wave your phone to a lock to open it — can sometime be a very bad idea when you truly analyse user behaviours and expectations.”
Hoteliers appear to be warming up to using NFC access control or an NFC hotel key system. Let’s face it – the system is green, it reduces the costs of deploying and replacing cards. It gives hoteliers immediate control over access control for employees who leave and guests that have checkout of the premises. It makes sense all around. What we expect to see in the future is NFC mobile wallet facilities that incorporate room service and other hotel based services with payment built straight in.
OpenWays has scored a high profile hotel chain with which to test its system out. The fact that OpenWays can upgrade existing hotel door locks with an NFC module doesn’t hurt its chances to succeed either. So, before long your hotel stay in whatever city is likely to have the option of using an NFC hotel key for check ins and access to your room. You won’t have to add one more piece of plastic to your wallet and you will be able to just carry your NFC smartphone, which you cart about with you anyway.
We look forward to seeing how Nordic Choice Hotels rates the OpenWays system and to learn whether the NFC hotel key system gets deployed throughout their premises. If you want to learn more about the OpenWays NFC hotel key system, head over the the firm’s website by clicking here.