The overarching feeling for me is that mid-year and leading into year-end we’re going to see more new product than we might have expected and a lot of it is going to be in access control, an area that’s been subdued for some time. In fact, for a long time, integration with CCTV systems has seemed to onlookers as the biggest deal in access control.  
This year there is a stack of major new software releases both happening now and pending soon, including new DAS Security Commander software for Challenger, Protege’s GX flexible management software and later in the year we’re going to see big new things from Inner Range. 
With increased activity from CEM Systems, Kantech, Salto and ASSA ABLOY there’s going to be growth in this area of the like we’ve not seen since the froth and bubble that surrounded Cardax, Tecom, Inner Range and Genesis back in the mid-1990s.  
What’s interesting is the breadth of the new products we’re seeing. It’s not just a matter of a couple of new software releases – competitiveness is noticeable at all levels of this market. There are new readers from HID, Sagem, Hitachi, CEM Systems and others. 
High quality network-based product is coming from Chase with PCSC, HID with Vertx, ongoing enhancements to controllers from that perennial over-achiever, Gallagher with CardaxFT, as well as ongoing enhancements to the controllers of Australia’s most popular access control solutions.  
Automation is also sparking up with Protege’s GX claimed to be especially capable and interesting applications taking place in Australia and overseas with Concept where automation and integration capabilities are being leveraged to offer operational functionality in industrial and service applications. 
It’s always risky to predict anything about the future of biometric readers but there are more of these readers visible and they are smaller, less expensive and more appealing than they’ve ever been. The range of Sagem fingerprint readers deserves attention more than ever and Hitachi’s Finger Vein ID has big wins in Japan. 
When it comes to wireless linking of mechanical or locally powered locking solutions you’re talking about gear from the likes of Salto, and ASSA ABLOY with Aperio. There are applications where these technologies are an excellent and cost effective way to increase security levels on large sites. 
Another area of access control where we are seeing ongoing development is intercoms, which are increasingly networked, surveillance-capable and downright functional for domestic and commercial applications. Taken as a whole, my expectation is that increased competition in the access control segment will deliver improvements in both technology and functionality in all areas. Seldom do we see so many key releases occurring virtually simultaneously, in the scheme of typical R&D timelines.
Some of these improvements will be expected, others will be inventive and unusual, such as FSH’s integration of a CCTV camera into its delayed egress MEM 2400EXTC delayed egress lock. All these improvements will demand a reaction from competitors, driving the next generation of access control solutions to ever greater levels of sophistication.