Did you realize that one of the most vital technologies in your daily life has remained relatively unchanged since 704 BC?

No, it’s not your toaster or your household plumbing. It’s the technology that most of us rely on to safeguard our most valued possessions.

That’s right — it’s the locks and keys that control access to our homes and property. The oldest examples date way back to the ancient Assyrians. And while the technology has evolved somewhat in the intervening 2,719 years (better materials, more complex designs), the basic lock and key are still how most of us keep unauthorized people away from our stuff.


Of course, locks and keys have their drawbacks. Locks can be picked. Keys can be lost. They don’t allow access rights to be easily transferred. They don’t provide any additional data, such as who gained access and when. And perhaps most significantly, physical locks and keys have limited applications.

But thanks to NFC technology, vastly improved access control systems addressing those issues and more are now available.

For several years, there have been NFC-enabled locks that let you gain access to your home or business with a tap of your phone. There are also NFC solutions that can simplify flexible access control for cabinets and drawers. But that’s only the beginning. Because NFC can bring both security and intelligence to physical objects, it can do much more than traditional access control.

For example, NFC lets you bypass the long waiting line at the hotel check-in desk and go straight to your room after a long day’s travel. Inexpensive NFC tags attached to luxury goods and collectibles can confirm their authenticity to protect owners’ investments. And businesses with mobile workforces can use NFC to provide site access and monitor their workers’ whereabouts and time spent at each location — all without the risks of physical locks and keys.

And because NFC provides a way to collect data related to those comings and goings, it can be a vital source of information about supply chains, traffic patterns, security risks, and more. It’s taken almost three millennia, but NFC is finally delivering a measurable improvement on the old lock and key.

And that’s something we can all feel more secure about.