Rob Martens, Allegion's futurist and director of connectivity platforms, is a leading strategist on the Internet of Things (IoT). He will be a featured panelist at the IoT Global Innovation Forum in April. In the following interview, Martens unfolds more about Allegion's IoT position and strategy.
Question: There's a lot of buzz about the IoT. How is Allegion playing in this space?
Rob Martens: Allegion is very active in the IoT space and is widely respected by many other peer organizations for our strategic vision. We occupy a special place as a visible market leader in both the residential and commercial spaces. Allegion has been among the first to understand that IoT is not a grab-bag of apps and smart devices; it is really about how a building responds to users, anticipates their life, and allows users and the environment to adjust to one another.
Our most buzz-worthy offering in the residential market is the Schlage Sense – a next generation solution that is specially designed to work with Apple's new HomeKit platform among others. On the commercial side of Allegion's business, we also have many connected products, but the most visible today is the Schlage NDE Series Locks with Engage technology. It is a solution that allows facility owners to make an investment in the future technology while still leveraging the embedded tools and infrastructure that they have today.
Question: What distinguishes Allegion from the start-ups that are pitching their new connected products? In other words, why should customers buy from Allegion?
Rob Martens: Start-ups tend to sell a vision of a product to garner funding and then try their best to deliver it. Many times, that ends badly – especially when hardware is involved. When we announce a product, we have the credibility in the market that not only do we actually have a solution that works, but that it will meet the quality they expect from Schlage. I guess the real question you have to ask is, "Would you want to buy a lock from a software company? Or from a company that has almost 100 years of experience doing it?"
Question: What is your favorite feature of the Schlage Sense lock?
Allegion has been among the first to understand that IoT is not a grab-bag of apps and smart devices; it is really about how a building responds to users
Rob Martens: First of all, the lock looks like a piece of jewelry – I think we have really upped our game from a style and design perspective. There are some amazing product features with the Sense. If I had to pick, I like the "talk to unlock" feature that leverages Siri. A close second would be the accelerometer alarm feature…to have a lock that is smart enough to distinguish between a kick-in attempt and a door slam is, as my friend from Boston says, "wicked cool."
Question: Which recent industry trends have caught your attention as things to watch?
Rob Martens: Style and design are key differentiators in the marketplace in addition to software and hardware functionality. While embedding technology like accelerometers in our product and having intuitive apps to operate them are important, it's not the only key to success. People won't buy a smart device unless it captures their personal style too. I think we are making great contributions and have the opportunity to lead the industry in this fusion of technology and style. Innovation can and should be beautiful too.
Question: Besides Allegion products and your iPhone (of course), what's your favorite connected device and why?
Rob Martens: I have many, but will call out three: I love the Honeywell Lyric Thermostat. It leverages geo-fencing technology to manage the environment in your home, real time, rather than being a "learning thermostat" where it tries to track my patterns (I'm a bit chaotic). The iDevices Switch is a really cool accessory for HomeKit that is multiple devices in one and responds to voice commands. Lastly, I really like Chamberlain's MyQ product; it allows me to monitor and manage the position and status of my garage door from anywhere.