Invisible locking device uses RFID to control access

Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology has become popular with retailers in recent years as a way to grant employee access to protected spaces, and as a contactless payment mechanism. Now RFID can be used to create an invisible locking mechanism that retailers can use for controlling access to store drawers and cabinets.

Accuride International has manufactured drawer slides for nearly 55 years, and has been working on methods to provide security for those drawers in the last five years. Its latest development utilizes a lightweight RFID sensor that reads cards that are waved in front of it and automatically unlocks drawers where valuable merchandise is stored and displayed.

The Senseon Secure Access device is sold to both display designers and retailers, so the device can be built right into the cabinet. “We have a lot to offer store designers. This provides security while preserving the cabinet design aesthetics. It can be built into any design configuration,” says Greg Rewers, solutions marketing director for Accuride.

Senseon eliminates the need for keys. “You don’t have to worry that employees will forget to relock a cabinet after showing merchandise,” he says. “This can be programmed to automatically relock … seven or 10 seconds after it’s been opened.” Additionally, the card reader is hidden so potential burglars can’t find and break it. “With locks, thieves know where to break in and they know what they have to overcome to break the system. Our system is invisible so the thief doesn’t have any idea of what to do,” Rewers says.

Easy access

Retail customers like the system because when they want to see an item in a locked display, a store employee can easily access it without taking time to search for a key. “Besides security, we are offering a premium user experience,” Rewers says.

When customers wish to see an item locked in a display, store employees can easily access the product without taking time to search for a key.

The system is offered in several options including touch release, soft close, auto open or standard. The soft close is similar to kitchen cabinet drawers that slowly slide closed, while the auto open is similar to a cash register. The standard option involves door and drawer handles and conventional opening and closing.

The system can be retrofitted into existing cabinets as long as a nearby power source is available. It is more commonly designed into new cabinets; one reader can facilitate up to 15 drawers and doors and can withstand 250 pounds of force.

Retailers can choose between fob and card options. The system can handle up to five administrator cards and up to 100 user cards per reader. Administrators can add cards for new employees or delete them when an employee leaves or the card is lost or stolen. Administrators can also perform a system-wide reset to change all users if necessary.

Facilitating purchases

While there are other products in the market that utilize components of RFID technology, “I am not aware of any other company that offers a complete system,” Rewers says. “Others may offer components of this that a retailer would have to integrate. Also, others require you drill in front of the drawer, which can hamper the aesthetics of the system.”

Senseon was developed “as the smart successor to traditional access control methods, freeing users from inefficiencies, high maintenance costs, design constraints and aesthetic limitations,” says Accuride CEO Scott Jordan. “It offers a simple, better way to reduce theft, streamline operations, ease employees’ jobs and improve the customer experience.”

Jewelry, consumer electronics, medications, cash, sensitive documents and other items “need to be secured reliably, while employees also need instant access to contents during a transaction,” Rewers says. “When a salesperson can remove a luxury watch or smartphone from a display case with the tap of a smart card rather than fumbling with the right key or going to a storeroom, the customer has a better experience and is more likely to buy.”

This article was published in the November 2016 issue of STORES Magazine.