German firm BlueID is using NFC (near field communication) to turn smartphones into door keys. Using BlueID’s unique technology, BlackBerrys mobile phones can be utilized to open doors and control access in office buildings.
Employing BlackBerrys for access control marks a move away from existing physical access to buildings, such as using access cards, tokens or keys, and replaces it with a form of digital access instead. An additional benefit of the system is that doors do not need to be fitted with a passive NFC tag.
The smartphone carries out all the necessary communication with the access control system, so the costly installation of NFC readers at each door is not necessary. At the same time, smartphones without NFC are kept compatible as well by BlueID’s support of Bluetooth and 2G/3G/4G wireless internet connections.
BlueID issues access permissions as digital keys, so-called BlueID tickets, centrally in the BlueID Trust Center and transmits them worldwide to BlackBerrys over a secured mobile internet connection. The BlackBerry, equipped with the BlueID Mobile Client app, turns into a digital key ring. With appropriate access permissions, the user is thus able to open doors. A BlueID module for secure actuation is connected to the existing access control system and controls several doors.
Markus Weitzel, Managing Director at Baimos Technologies, explains how NFC-enabled smartphones and BlueID work. ‘At the door, the BlackBerry with NFC is held in front of the NFC tag. Immediately BlueID opens the door. The communication between BlackBerry and control unit is high-security RSA/AES-encrypted.’
Installation of the NFC tag takes place cordlessly, which simplifies upgrading existing access control systems.
Security is the main concern of BlueID. Transmission of access permissions as well as every actuation at the door is secured by RSA/AES encryption at a key length of up to 4,096 bits. Contrary to physical access media like access cards and tokens, the cost for creating a BlueID ticket using certificates is fair: digital permissions with a validity of up to five years cost between 0.24 (£0.19 and 8.39 Euro (£6.73).
At all times, access permissions are stored securely in BlueID Trust Center and can be retrieved whenever necessary. Key loss is not possible anymore: if the smartphone is lost, all access permissions can be revoked reliably within seconds worldwide. Then access permissions can comfortably be loaded onto a new phone.
All doors, gates and safety locks with existing electronic access control systems can easily be upgraded for use with BlackBerrys and NFC. Subsequently, issuance of physical access media is terminated. All BlueID products like BlueID Access Indoor, BlueID Access Outdoor and BlueID Access Appliance can be used with NFC as well as with Bluetooth and 2G/3G/4G. Actuation at the door always employs high-security RSA/AES encryption.
Opening doors with NFC is possible with BlackBerry Bold 9900 and 9790, as well as with BlackBerry Curve 9380 and 9360. Other BlackBerry models with software version 4.3 and higher are compatible with BlueID as well. With these devices, doors can be opened at the push of a button on the smartphone.