Virtual Intercoms: Invest or Ignore?

Keeping up with the latest technology in the multifamily housing game is a duty and a pleasure, especially when tech pops up that really makes us go “what were they thinking?”. Enter the virtual intercom (entry control system pun intended.) Access control systems are a competitive niche, and some companies want to differentiate themselves with a product that’s new and unique, even if it’s not better. Some alternative products that pride themselves on being a unique option haven’t stopped to consider whether they’re even a necessary option. We’re here to break down one of these alternatives, the virtual intercom, and help you decide whether it’s actually right for your property. 

How do they work?

Virtual intercoms work pretty much like regular intercoms – except they forgot the intercom itself. The technology is completely wireless, relying on apps and the internet rather than a physical piece of equipment. A great example is the virtual intercom system championed by Grand Dunes, who specialize in entry systems. Their “intercoms” use a QR code posted at the door or gate, for guests to scan and access a virtual directory. Residents can use their phones for everything: opening doors, letting guests in, and seeing who’s at the gate. Even we can’t deny it’s convenient. The idea is to reduce costs and waste, which some companies believe physical intercoms produce. Properties who use virtual intercoms try to save on hardware and installation costs, not to mention repairs and maintenance. It’s easy to see the theoretical attraction of virtual intercoms, especially for property owners who want “modern” written in subtext all over the place. 

Virtual vs Video

But what about video intercoms? Are they old news now? Not exactly. Thanks to app compatibility from companies like Iotas, PointCentral, Stratis, and HomeBase that partner with intercom technology, video intercoms actually provide the exact same function as a virtual one, with a few added benefits. Intercoms that are connected to apps give residents the same conveniences of answering phones and opening doors from anywhere. On top of that, video intercoms – or physical intercoms in general – are much more user-friendly and intuitive for residents with all levels of tech skills. Grandma still wants to visit you, and she shouldn’t be thwarted by an invisible access system. 

The best part of using hardware over a solely-virtual platform is an added measure of security. With wireless and hardwired options for video intercoms, the safety of the equipment is reinforced and designed to be hack-proof. Keeping resident information stored only online presents a security risk that properties and residents might be concerned about, so a physical piece of technology is a much better option for cautious communities. 

The multifamily industry sees some cool technology, but not all of it needs to stick around. Virtual intercoms may be a thing of the present, but video intercoms are still the access control technology of the future – at least until something cooler comes along.  

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