The vast majority of us walk around with our phones in our hands nearly 24/7. Often seen as a distraction in the workplace, phones can actually be useful for many reasons, including access control. Rather than adding an extra key fob to the keychain or card to the wallet, it makes sense to use our phones to access the places we go most often, such as our workplaces.
With an increase in smart devices and the ubiquity of cell phones, many businesses are starting to opt for Bluetooth access control. It allows users to gain entry via their phones seamlessly, and it can save businesses money. Learn more here about what Bluetooth access control is and how it works.
What Is Bluetooth Access Control?
Bluetooth access control uses Bluetooth technology to control access to buildings and other areas on your property. Bluetooth is a type of short-range wireless technology that allows you to exchange data between devices. Most of us use Bluetooth in our daily lives, whether it’s to play music on wireless earbuds or for hands-free calling in the car.
When it comes to access control, Bluetooth allows users to gain access with just their phone. The technology allows system administrators to control access with their phones as well. One of the many perks of Bluetooth access control is that it does not require internet access to function. It simply requires users to get their phone near a reader to gain access.
Bluetooth access control is a relatively cheap form of access control, especially when compared to systems that require users to have a key card or key fob. With these types of systems, you need to pay for the cards and fobs, they need to be replaced semi-regularly, and you need to keep some on hand for new users. When users access the building via Bluetooth, however, you don’t need to pay for the device they access with as they’ll use their own personal phone. This also greatly reduces the chance users will forget their access device or leave it in the car. It’s rare today that people go anywhere without their phone.
How Does Bluetooth Access Control Work?
Bluetooth access control works via an app on users’ phones and a Bluetooth proximity reader connected to your access control system. In this contactless system, when someone wants to gain access to your property, they will need to have their phone in close proximity to the reader. How close their phone needs to get and to what degree they need to open their phone is up to you as a system administrator.
There are various ways users can activate the system to recognize their phones. Before their first use, users will need to install an app and register their phone. This will then store their phone’s unique ID as an authorized user.
Then, as a system administrator, you can choose the way you want your access control system to function. Users can open their app and show their phone like they would a QR code, they can shake their phone to activate Bluetooth, or they can press a manual button within the app to open the door.
Optionally, users can always keep Bluetooth on so they only need to come near the reader to be granted access. While this is convenient for users, it’s not as secure as requiring them to physically do something with their phone to gain entry. Asking users to open their phone and enter the passcode or use the biometric recognition most people have activated creates an extra layer of security.
Regardless of which type of system you use, the user’s phone communicates with the Bluetooth reader to either grant or deny access. Every person’s phone has a unique ID that is recorded when they enroll and register. The system then remembers this ID in a database to allow entry.
System administrators are also able to perform actions via Bluetooth, including opening or locking the door to control access.
Does Bluetooth Access Control Drain Phone Battery?
Some uses of Bluetooth are notorious for draining your phone battery. This can be a concern for many users. Thankfully, most Bluetooth access control systems use a type of Bluetooth that doesn’t drain batteries called Bluetooth low energy (BLE). BLE uses much less battery power than traditional Bluetooth; in fact, devices can run for years on BLE without batteries dying. This is helpful for wireless Bluetooth proximity readers that run on batteries. Additionally, using a BLE system won’t drain the batteries on users’ phones.
Is Bluetooth Access Control Secure?
Bluetooth access control is secure because it has built-in two-factor authentication, especially if you require users to unlock their phone to activate their bluetooth. Requiring users to have their phones on and unlocked helps ensure they are who they are supposed to be.
Most people don’t lose their phones regularly, and if they do lose their phone, they recognize it pretty quickly. When somebody loses their key card or key fob, however, they may not realize it until the next time they go to work. It would be easy for anybody to pick up that fob and enter your building, something they wouldn’t be able to do as easily with a lost phone.
You can also choose the range you want the Bluetooth to work at, which can affect the security of your system as well. A closer range will of course be more secure even though a further range may be more convenient for users.
Additionally, Bluetooth is traditionally more secure than wifi. Bluetooth isn’t typically a target for hacking, and as long as you keep your firmware updated, you typically shouldn’t have any major security concerns.