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Entries by Rob Martens

    A look at voice-enabled tech

    July 16, 2018 by Rob_Martens

    Monday, July 16, 2018

    Rob Martens - Voice-enabled Tech - Schlage

    From turning down the volume on your stereo to locking your front door, these technologies and their application in the smart home are fast becoming the rule rather than the exception.



    Rob Martens - Voice-enabled tech - Schlage

    It was little more than two years ago that Amazon’s Echo took the holiday shopping season by storm and Google Home’s voice-activated speaker brought Google Assistant from the phone to the living room. They were taking the baton passed by assistants like Siri and Cortana who, as far back as 2011, began replacing phone apps in the search for everything from good pizza to directions to Mozart’s birthday.


    Google Assistant is now available on more than 400 million devices, close to 95% of all Android devices, worldwide. Looking ahead, comScore predicts that half of all searches will be done via voice by 2020 with a sizeable percentage of those on a device like a voice-activated speaker – in other words, on devices without screens. From turning down the volume on your stereo to dimming your lights to locking your front door, these technologies and their application in the smart home are fast becoming the rule rather than the exception.


    Rob Martens, President of Allegion Ventures and futurist for Allegion and their lock-manufacturing division, Schlage, looks ahead to where it’s all going. No stranger to innovation and the implementation of emerging tech, Martens has both insight and strong opinions on the rapidly evolving industry. He is responsible for identifying those mega-trends in technology that will best serve Schlage’s customers and then bringing them to life with products such as the Schlage Sense™ Smart Deadbolt and the Schlage Connect™ Touchscreen Deadbolt.

    Smart lock - Schlage

    Q&A with Rob Martens

    Q. What was your first indication that home integration was somewhere that Schlage had to be?

    A. “My focus, my responsibility, is on anything that could have a meaningful impact on our customers and our business. Anything that can significantly improve our customers’ experience with our products is something we’re going to be interested in. We first started exploring connected door hardware in 2008 and we’ve escalated our own efforts as the technologies have improved and been increasingly accepted. Schlage’s first patent was for a door lock that also turned on your lights. That was in 1909. So, I guess you could say it’s in our DNA.”

    Rob Martens - Smart home - Schlage

    Q. So, the smart home is here to stay?

    A. “I think that the adoption of the technology, and the technology itself, is so significant, I foresee a time in the very near future we’re not even calling it a “smart home” any more – just a “home.” It’s going to go from something new to something we all accept as the way things are. Our job is to make these new technologies accessible and relevant so that we remove any intimidation factor that may exist. Once we do that, you’re looking at an idea whose time has come and, indeed, is here to stay.”

    Q. How has Schlage’s technology addressed this “intimidation factor” and what have you done to make your connected technologies more user friendly, particularly for voice?”

    A. “Believe it or not, the way you make the technology better is by not worrying about the technology but rather what the user wants to accomplish with it. We know things are constantly changing and technology should continue to evolve with the ever-changing needs of our customers. Our focus is on applying these technologies in such a way that our customers, regardless of what system they choose for their home automation, only need one lock that works, is easy to use, is secure, and can evolve with their needs. Ideally, we’d provide one lock you didn’t need to change because of obsolescence. It’s all about our ability to continue to meet their needs whether they’re locking their door with a keypad, their smartphone or with a voice prompt. It shouldn’t matter. We need to give them a good experience, whatever their preferences. It’s not technology for technology’s sake, it has to meet a defined need.”

    Q. You’re in the security business. How do you provide connectivity and convenience as well as security?

    A. “That is the single most important factor we look at – for today and tomorrow – when it comes to all Schlage products. Privacy. Security. Peace of mind. That’s our job. That’s what a lock does. We start with the fact that we are in the life safety business, and we ask ourselves – especially with the integration of new technologies like voice activation – if what’s happening when you ask Alexa to lock your door is exactly what you want to happen. That’s why, for instance, you can’t ask Alexa to unlock your door without providing a security code. So, again, you take the actual technology out of it, you look at who you’re serving and what they need, and you work from there to build the technologies and products that meet those needs. Not the other way around.”

    Q. That’s an interesting point of view, coming from a futurist at a company that prides itself on technological innovation.

    A. “When you get right down to it, our customers don’t really care about the details – about the features and functions and bells and whistles. Does it work? Is it secure? Is it easy to use? Does it add value? We have to start there. If not, then we’re not doing our jobs. We solve for that, and then we can focus on convenience features and – also extremely important to our customers – style. So much of what happens with your home starts at the front door. It’s the ultimate first impression. We work really hard to make it a good one, and to bring our customers the security they demand, the style that reflects who they are and a great user experience.”

    Rob Martens - Voice-enabled tech - Schlage

    Q. What’s next?

    A. “My job is to look at products, services and technologies that are proving disruptive in other industries – the Internet of Things and voice-activated home automation technologies are a good example of that – and then see how we can apply those disruptive elements and what they represent to our products. For us, it’s going to be the evolution of home automation tech, biometrics, face recognition and machine learning that continue to make our products relevant and current without losing sight of what our core mission is. We need to continue to listen to our customers and then safely apply appropriate technologies to our products based on what they’re asking for. We don’t try to do everything on our own. We are working with Apple, Amazon, Google and other emerging tech companies to help identify what’s next and then bring value to their technologies, all in service to our shared customers.”

    According to Martens, that combination of thinking ahead and applying technology responsibly leads to important insights. For example, connecting a garage door opener to a fire alarm in a home automation system.


    “The last thing you’d want to happen in a home fire,” says Martens, “ is for your alarm system to automatically open your garage door. While, at first blush, it would seem logical to provide such an escape route, this actually creates a rush of oxygen that can fuel the fire and make it worse. These are the kinds of problems, these unintended consequences, to which Schlage’s expertise in fire and life safety can offer solutions. We need to have the capacity to think through such issues in developing connected technologies.”


    Connected technologies provide an opportunity for companies like Schlage to create tailored experiences for their customers. Two-thirds of smart home speaker users conduct local searches for products, services or local business at least once a week. More than half search daily and nearly one-third of them will visit the website of a local business after conducting their search. What’s more, 60 percent of them just started doing so in the last year!


    When you factor in the rapid adoption of home automation, it’s clear that these technologies are going to continue to play an increasing role in our daily lives. Companies like Amazon, Apple, Google and Schlage – and influencers like Allegion’s Rob Martens – are going to continue to define what’s next and develop technologies, products and services that definitively answer that question.


    Look for more from Schlage, Rob Martens and other key influencers at

    The importance of flexibility when selecting IoT technology

    August 15, 2017 by Rob_Martens

    Tuesday, August 15, 2017

    The importance of flexibility when selecting IoT technology

    Futurist Rob Martens explains how today's IoT technology must be flexible to be successful.



    In my work, I’m frequently surrounded by experts and people heavily immersed in the latest and greatest technology tools and sciences. That makes talking with people who are not as exposed to the Internet of Things (IoT) a special opportunity. I always tell them, the fact is that the success or failure of IoT oriented solutions is all about being flexible.

    In my experience, these conversations and interactions quickly become a discussion about operating systems. When the term operating system is used, many of us think about our personal computing devices: phones, tablets, perhaps a laptop. But today’s operating systems aren’t necessarily tied to a single piece of hardware or a traditional “technology tool.” They can be ubiquitous, completely cloud-based and interact with devices based on circumstance.


    That said, in the more traditional vein we have operating systems for our watches, cars, and I would certainly now argue for our homes. All of these operating systems appear to be on very different paths to maturity, but in reality, they are following a similar map, largely based on the core foundations of their construction.

    To understand these paths, start with the basics. For IoT-oriented solutions, the three core contributors to growth/maturity are:

    • The cost and availability of sensors
    • The decreasing cost of data transport
    • The decreasing cost and increasing efficiency of data cleansing/optimization tools


    Sensors are affordable, and becoming more so daily. These sensors are also delivering more data than ever before. The cost of the pipes and transport of this data continue to decrease and become more accessible. All of this unstructured or “dirty” data is now more easily cleansed, sorted and made available through optimization tools. These are foundational, core trends that feed the ability for IoT operating systems to exist. These core components allow for these maturing operating systems to form, evolve and expand at the rapid pace we are witnessing.


    I work for a company that makes security and safety products focused on where people work, live and play. My job is challenging and immensely interesting to me, because we are in the process of bridging a divide. On one side are the typically hardened, tough metal objects meant to keep out the people you don’t want coming in, and on the other are newer digital components that are meant to protect but can also enable a higher level of convenience, interoperability and function than ever before.

    So let’s focus on the evolving home or building operating system for a moment. Some call them Smart Homes or Smart Buildings. Here we are finding the fusion of energy management, security and most recently, convenience. Historically, energy management and security are well understood. We manage the costs of lighting, HVAC, etc. We understand why it is important to have locks on our doors and to keep our buildings secure. The seed change of the IoT in this operating system is now appearing. By installing connected, smart or sensor-driven devices, we are effectively bringing the element of convenience to more people. As we witness the fusion of these historically disparate elements of energy management, security and convenience together, we can provide a more tailored and personalized experience to the user. In other words, we can provide flexibility.


    Will my watch, car and home be able to support multiple operating systems? What if I want just one? Or will these operating systems themselves demonstrate the type of flexibility that consumers crave and demand as the technology matures? How will these operating systems evolve? If I choose one, am I stuck? 

    Great questions, and early on, operating systems have been very proprietary. History shows us that less proprietary systems are typically faster to evolve and change, allowing them to adopt newer technology to positively impact function, availability and costs. Again, in a word, flexibility.


    In addition to the influence of traditional market demand-based innovative design and crave-worthy marketing efforts will be the critical elements of security, privacy and the management of data. These elements are potential game changers if not suitably and continuously addressed. There is no flexibility here.


    Operating systems will become broader and more transparent as IoT-oriented devices and tools enter our lives in masse. The growth curve is undeniable, and the opportunities are becoming much more obvious to even the least exposed observers. The measure of adoption and perhaps most importantly, satisfaction that they deliver will be largely dependent on how flexible they are for the user. To learn more, visit


    Rob Martens

    Rob Martens | Futurist and VP of Strategy and Partnerships

    Rob Martens uses his unique talent for identifying patterns and associations to look for mega trends in technology, as well as the ways they can be used to improve the average person’s day. 

    How the Internet of Things is opening possibilities beyond the smart home

    April 19, 2017 by Rob_Martens

    Wednesday, April 19, 2017

    The IoT is going beyond the Smart Home

    Futurist Rob Martens explains how the convenience of a smart home is made possible with an open platform.



    By Rob Martens, Futurist and VP of Strategy and Partnerships at Allegion, maker of Schlage.


    Most people have heard of the Internet of Things by now, but few are familiar with the possibilities this platform opens for businesses and consumers alike. This platform, that has long been associated with the smart home, offers real and tangible value beyond the cool factor. Consumers and businesses fail to recognize that the Internet of Things acts as a key component to the daily operations of companies in several industries, such as fitness, agriculture and fashion. 


    A sensor does not make a product or technology part of the “Internet of Things”, it’s all about creating a holistic experience for the end user. It’s time consumers and businesses drop this notion and realize the positive impacts this technology has or could have. From the clothes we wear to the food we eat, the IoT is creating new conveniences and helping us maximize our resources every day.


    Beyond Fitness Trackers, IoT Taps into Equipment

    Most people are familiar with wearables that track fitness like Fitbit. The IoT is also taking exercise machines a step further into the future by creating realistic and tangible user experiences. The Peloton Cycle Exercise Bike, for example, comes with a screen that allows you to connect to real-life classes hosted by fitness trainers, giving users access to world-class instructors and allowing them to compete with other users from the comfort of home. With the busy schedules many of us keep, it’s easy for self-care to fall to the bottom of the priority list. Connected fitness machines make it easier to prioritize fitness by saving time spent traveling to the gym, and encouraging healthy competition between users all over the world.


    Hotels are even catching on, providing Peloton bikes within the room so guests can get their exercise without heading down to the gym. This is a smart idea in that it differentiates those hotels and draws guests away from the competition by offering a premium experience. The bike’s ability to import data from your wearables means you have access to the latest health metrics whether you’re using a hotel’s bike or your own. And perhaps best of all, when Peloton added tech, they didn’t sacrifice good design. The bike is one of the most attractive fitness machines on the market, and sturdily made so it can handle intense exercise sessions.

    IoT Provides Solutions to Farmers and Harvesters

    The IoT is even helping to maximize our agricultural resources. Farmers face immense challenges in creating a steady crop yield year over year – unpredictable weather, water shortages, and limited availability of land can impact the yield significantly. Brilliant IoT innovators have been focusing their expertise in this industry for years to create some pretty amazing resources to help solve those problems, increasing the quality, quantity and sustainability of agricultural production.


    Large farms can now use remote sensors to monitor the amount of moisture in the soil and even the amount of growth the crop has achieved. Harvesters can now be controlled from anywhere in the world, provided there’s an Internet connection available. Inventors have even begun using artificial intelligence to analyze metrics about the crop and even weather patterns to make predictions about the future, taking some of the guesswork out of a traditionally unpredictable industry. This is not just great news for farmers – it’s great news for everyone because it increases crop yields to make food more widely available.

    Fashion Meets Technology

    The fashion world is even beginning to catch onto the many benefits of the IoT. Most people today appreciate the ability to customize; we want our clothes, our homes, our cars, everything we own to not only behave in ways that make the day go smoothly and conveniently, but to reflect who we are as people. We live in an increasingly connected world in which we interact with new people more frequently. First impressions are more important than ever, so the ability to express who you are through the clothes you wear has become equally important.


    Services like NikeID allow you to customize your product (in their case, shoes) from the ground up. You start with a blank canvas, choose the basic structure of the shoe based on the functionality you want, and then you get to customize the fun stuff – materials used, colors and graphic prints. You can even choose how the bottom of the shoe looks. Another service called Trunk Club behaves as a personal fashion assistant, a luxury typically reserved for the rich and famous that’s becoming available to all thanks to the IoT. The service shows you several style combinations and asks for your opinion, building a profile of your tastes that allows it to make suggestions based on what it knows you like. It even seeks out the clothes that are best for your body type, as well as those that fit within your budget, so you aren’t pressed into spending more than you normally would.

    The reason these innovations work is that they create a holistic experience for the end user. It’s not about the latest gadget or simply adding sensors to everyday items – it’s about integrating technology into your lifestyle in a way that makes sense and creates convenience and efficiency. It’s about creating a beautiful user interface, in terms of both usability and design. It’s about providing you with the essential knowledge you need in order to be as successful as you can. In its simplest terms, the IoT is about making life better, and the opportunities to do that are boundless. Every industry on the planet, and even the planet itself, stands to benefit from technology used in this way.
    To learn more about Schlage’s stance on the tech landscape, please visit


    Rob Martens

    Rob Martens | Futurist and VP of Strategy and Partnerships

    Rob Martens uses his unique talent for identifying patterns and associations to look for mega trends in technology, as well as the ways they can be used to improve the average person’s day. 

    The future of the smart home is accessible

    March 13, 2017 by Rob_Martens

    Wednesday, March 15, 2017

    The future of the smart home is accessible

    A Futurist’s view on technology’s growing accessibility and the need to demystify for consumers



    By Rob Martens, Futurist and VP of Strategy and Partnerships for Allegion, maker of Schlage.


    One of the things I love most about technology is that every device begins its life as an idea. In decades past, inventors, futurists like myself, and even science fiction writers have spent countless hours imagining ways the future can be better through the advancement of technology. But it’s not only about ground breaking ideas, major advancements, or that moment when the idea becomes reality. Technology has its greatest impact when it becomes accessible enough for everyone to benefit from – when the idea becomes practical.



    We may not have reached the age of flying cars, but now you can lock your car (or your front door) from the other side of the planet, so you don’t have to spend your entire vacation wondering if your belongings are safe. The technology used to do this is fairly simple and has existed for quite a while, yet using it in this practical way may seem like a new idea.
    That’s because it takes time for a new technology to grow from just an idea into an actual device, and even more time to become accessible enough for everyone to benefit from. When technology becomes more accessible, it evolves even further as we find alternate ways it can become practical in our daily lives. For example, in just the past few decades the smartphone has completely changed the way we live. We still use them to make calls, but as smartphones have become more and more accessible they’ve also made mobile access to the Internet widespread across the country, giving rise to new services and cultural behaviors that weren’t possible before.

    The smart home space is an especially exciting example of this evolution because advancements are happening so rapidly that the possibilities for real-world application expand every day. That moment when a new technology becomes affordable and performs well enough to make its way into the mass market is extremely important in opening up those possibilities. However, in order for a technology to become relevant enough to change the cadence of our lives and even our society, it must be truly demystified for the user.

    A lot goes into that demystification. Smart home tech is truly successful when it adds convenience to our lives, and it can only do that when it is simple for any user to set up and begin using. The smart home is no longer about investing significant time and resources into hiring a professional to set up a complex, whole-home system with a user manual the size of a novel. These days, it’s easy to start with one device that works with a smartphone right out of the box and is easily integrated into your daily routine. Smart locks are a great example of this.
    In other words, smart home technology is evolving from futuristic idea to practical application rapidly, and it’s no longer just for early tech adopters. It’s for your mom, your grandparents, your kids – anyone moving fast through the day who needs technology to make life easier without causing disruption. This level of accessibility takes smart home to the next level: no longer ‘smart’, but simply ideal. A home that is fluid and adaptable based on our daily, changing needs. No longer a luxury for a select few, but completely obtainable and customizable for all, one piece at a time.
    Part of the demystification process is also understanding how these devices can actually be useful and make life easier. Why would you want to be able to control your lock with your smartphone? Because I was in a hurry this morning, and it’s incredibly comforting that I can double check from my office whether I locked the front door behind me. Why connect it to another device? Instead of fumbling for the light switch in the dark when I get home late, the lights come on automatically as I unlock the door. I may be biased, but the easiest way to try smart home tech for the first time is with your door lock. It’s the entry point to your home, and where so much of the magic can happen.
    What’s most important is that it’s easy for me to set up my smart lock and integrate it with other devices without having to understand every detail of the technology. They work seamlessly, and they add a moment of convenience to my day without interrupting my routine. This convenience is exciting because it’s no longer just an idea for futurists to consider, but available today to everyone. That level of accessibility is the true future of the smart home –and it’s happening now. To learn more, visit


    Rob Martens

    Rob Martens | Futurist and VP of Strategy and Partnerships

    Rob Martens uses his unique talent for identifying patterns and associations to look for mega trends in technology, as well as the ways they can be used to improve the average person’s day. 

    5 tech trends you should be watching in 2017

    January 20, 2017 by Rob_Martens

    Friday, January 20, 2017

    From virtual reality to data privacy - here are the top five technology trends you should be watching in 2017.



    New technology and major innovations often change at the speed of light. With major household brands working to make everyday life easier for consumers, there are a few factors you should keep an eye on as the technology you adopt evolves and matures. Here are the 5 tech trends you should be watching this year, according to Rob Martens, Futurist and VP of Strategy and Partners for Allegion, maker of Schlage Locks.
    5 tech trends you should be watching in 2017 | Schlage


    Mega-techs (household names like Apple, Amazon and Samsung) are creating platforms to unite home devices like door locks and security cameras.

    2. Differential privacy

    With more people concerned about their data being sold, crowdsourcing data to create better experiences—while keeping individual user data private—will only become more important in 2017.

    3. Chatbots & artificial intelligence

    Chatbots are simple systems that users interact with via text or voice, and they offer an alternative to downloading yet another app to help you access information or get something done.

    4. Enhanced design

    Enhanced design is the idea of incorporating new technology into the aesthetic and functional design of a project—creating opportunities to make the home safer, more efficient and more convenient.

    5. Augmented & virtual reality

    The practical applications for these technologies are becoming clearer each year, ranging from offering virtual test drives for car buyers to online stores that allow shoppers to “browse” the shelves.

    For a closer look at each of these trends and what major brands have to say about it, see Rob in action at CES 2017. Which tech trends are most important to you in 2017? Comment below to let us know.


    Rob Martens

    Rob Martens | Futurist and VP of Strategy and Partnerships

    Rob Martens uses his unique talent for identifying patterns and associations to look for mega trends in technology, as well as the ways they can be used to improve the average person’s day. 

    Top tech trends from CES 2017

    January 17, 2017 by Rob_Martens

    Tuesday, January 17, 2017

    Top tech trends from CES 2017 | Schlage

    Watch executives from innovating companies like NVIDIA, Lutron, iDevices and Ford as they discuss the smart home and other tech trends at CES 2017.



    Earlier this year, thousands of tech enthusiasts and brands gathered to witness and showcase the latest consumer innovations that are expected to hit the market in the near future. Rob Martens, Futurist and VP of Strategy and Partners for Allegion, maker of Schlage Locks, made five predictions for what he thought the biggest trends would be at this year’s showcase. See how these trends are coming to life as Martens chats with executives from NVIDIA, Lutron, iDevices and Ford. Check out the video below to see what they have to say about trends in the smart home, innovations in content and entertainment, and the future of connected vehicles.
    Visit our Smart Home Center on to get all the details on how new technology and innovations are working together to make your daily life at home a little easier.



    0:00 Hi, I'm Rob Martens, Futurist and Vice

    0:12 President of Strategy and Partnerships

    0:13 for Allegion, maker of Schlage Locks. Late

    0:17 last year, we made some predictions about

    0:18 what we might see at the 2017 Consumer

    0:21 Electronics show. Let's talk about the

    0:23 first prediction, content and

    0:25 entertainment innovations. So I think

    0:28 what we're going to see is this is absolutely

    0:29 not a flash-in-the-pan. It's not a

    0:31 24-hour trend. We're going to see it

    0:34 being really reinforced and really

    0:35 adopted as we see incredible content

    0:37 coming out and even more hardware to

    0:39 give you just a fantastic experience.

    0:40 Moving on to our second prediction, a

    0:43 smarter smart home.

    0:44 Smart home adoption is increasing,

    0:47 especially with the help of known brands

    0:49 brands like Schlage and Hunter,

    0:51 Chamberlain, Honeywell, Lutron - ones that

    0:55 people can relate to that have

    0:57 confidence in that they feel that they

    0:58 can trust. Lutron’s hope is that within

    1:01 the next two to three years, we're not

    1:03 talking about smart home anymore.

    1:05 We're just talking about the home and how

    1:07 people are using technology throughout

    1:08 every room to live life better and solve

    1:11 everyday problems. In 2017, what's

    1:14 iDevices perspective on this?

    1:17 We're staying true to what we've been

    1:18 doing. It’s going to be all about 

    1:20 easy integration. We've done Alexa. We’ve done

    1:24 Apple HomeKit™. We've got android support.

    1:26 We’ve covered the bases and we're just

    1:28 looking to expand on that and really

    1:30 looking for the revolution to happen

    1:32 this year in 2017. Number three, connected

    1:35 vehicles. What you're seeing behind us

    1:36 here is Ford's next generation in our

    1:39 autonomous vehicle development.

    1:40 That's the car that drives by itself.

    1:42 That's our step towards getting to our

    1:44 2021 goal of having a high-volume

    1:47 rideshare service that is completely

    1:49 autonomous. Well, CES 2017 is wrapping up.

    1:54 It's been a fantastic show. Amazing

    1:55 innovation and new technology from the

    1:58 living room couch to the connected car.

    1:59 We've seen it all.

    2:01 Coming soon to a home near you. See you

    2:03 next year.


    Rob Martens

    Rob Martens | Futurist and VP of Strategy and Partnerships

    Rob Martens uses his unique talent for identifying patterns and associations to look for mega trends in technology, as well as the ways they can be used to improve the average person’s day.