Hi Mark, are you wearing a hat? If so, hold on tight, cause I think we are in for bumpy ride that will be exciting and get us out of the rut, that we in access control, have been in since the early 90s! There is a lot to write about, but out of respect for our limited attention spans that are constantly interrupted by our customers, I will keep it short!
So what I see on the horizon, is movement away from the card reader having the smarts to know who is allowed in the door and at what times; to the card reader asking the credential if it has access rights to the door at this time. This change will eliminate the need for a data connection to the card reader or its field panel. When you couple that with the ability to make the locks self or battery powered, you eliminate the expense of running conduit and cable - a huge cost component. Eliminating wires will significantly drive down the cost of adding intelligence to a lock.
Are there down sides to the offline lock? For sure! The biggest is how do you tell the offline lock about lost, stolen, or cards of fired people? Offline locks have a "blacklist" database, which is a list of credentials that are not permitted access at any time. A blacklist does not need the constant updates that a whitelist of valid credential holders do.
You can update the blacklist by adding the newly blacklisted credential to all cards. When the updated credential is used in an offline lock, it will update the offline lock's blacklist database. A good design will have online locks at the perimeter these locks provide the normal access control functions, in addition they write to the credentials new blacklist data, and they will query the credential to get a log of its own transactions with offline locks.
So who is manufacturing these systems? I wrote an article about this in 2012, thinking that this would be new concept. However, my research found Salto, and I believe Kaba were already implementing the strategy. Last year we saw Assa Abloy and Allegion bring offline card readers to the market, and there are probably others.
I think the offline lock will make electronic locking proliferate. It won't replace mechanical locks, but it will significantly change the market share between the mechanical and electronic locks.