Developing mobile access for hotels
We recently posted an article about how products are developed at ASSA ABLOY’s shared global innovation organization, Shared Technologies. We continue this series by talking to Dennis Johannesson, R&D Project Manager at ASSA ABLOY Hospitality. Dennis has been creating key solutions for the hotel industry for almost two decades and has experienced the journey from a traditional mechanical key to an app in the phone.
What attracted you to this industry originally?
“New lock solutions for the hospitality industry are constantly being developed and it’s fascinating to be a part of that. Also, it is a very international job. We are fortunate to suffer less from downturns, since they tend to happen in different regions at different times – when one market struggles, another one is booming.”
Describe your work today…
“I work for ASSA ABLOY Hospitality’s R&D department with its headquarters in Ski, Norway and a development site in Landskrona, Sweden, but we have team members all over the world. We also work closely with other ASSA ABLOY companies. During a typical working day I will talk to colleagues in the USA, Shanghai and Sweden. We are about 10 people in my team.”
What are the main technology breakthroughs since you started?
“The hotel industry changed when punched card systems were offered to hotels. Then other card-based systems followed. This year it is time to move to the smartphone.”
The guest books a room and receives the credential to the app to be able to open the door.
How do the new key cards in smart phones work?
“We have developed hardware and software to make it possible for guests to use a smartphone equipped with Bluetooth to open doors. Starwood Hotels & Resorts is our first customer to update their app with a module they call Keyless. The guest books a room and receives the credential to the app to be able to open the door. Business travelers and others can bypass the front desk to avoid queues. Right now, ten hotels are using the Starwood app together with Hospitality’s VingCard door locks. By early 2015, another 30,000 Bluetooth-enabled door locks will be installed in 150 Starwood hotels.”
Did you have to hire new staff when working with Bluetooth Smart?
It must require completely different skills to develop a system using Bluetooth Smart compared to developing key cards, did you have to search for knowledge outside the company?
“No, and this is what makes ASSA ABLOY so fantastic. We worked with companies within the Group to develop this system.
To develop the Android and iOS parts for app use, we worked with ASSA ABLOY Mobile Keys. Communication between the app and the system was developed by ASSA ABLOY Mobile Keys and ASSA ABLOY Shared Technologies in a platform called Credential Services. The hardware was developed with HID Global. By working across different units, ASSA ABLOY is able to develop new business opportunities together and at a faster pace.”
What do you enjoy the most with your job?
“The hotel business is constantly changing. Through the years we have developed knowledge that we can be really proud of. The team I work in is fantastic, and it now also extends to more parts of the ASSA ABLOY community. Even though we have different cultures in different countries we come together to create a great product.”
Text: Anne Margrethe Mannerfelt
Photo: Andreas Hillergren