Six months ago, I joined a company with a little website and a big vision. The website had a dog on a skateboard going through a door, but the vision that instantly captured me was that one day, in the not too distant future, everyone would have an identity signal emitted from their smartphone or wearable that would allow them to seamlessly access everything in the physical world from buildings to cars to computers – kind of like single sign on for the physical world. Except single sign on only works for access, whereas the identity signal could tell things what to do for you too e.g pull up my Netflix on the hotel TV when I enter the room or charge me when I get off the train based on how long I’ve been riding.
New Products Available
Today marks a big step in Proxy’s path towards manifesting that vision. We’ve emerged from stealth, officially moved to our new home at www.proxy.com, and have announced the general availability of five new frictionless workplace products that leverage Proxy Signal, emitted from your smartphone with the Proxy ID app for iOS or Android:
Mobile Reader Pro: a mobile access reader designed for large enterprises and commercial properties that works with existing access control systems and supports both mobile access and legacy keycards/fobs
Mobile Reader Edge: a mobile access reader designed for small businesses that is simple, affordable, and works without the need for an on-premises access control system (for sale online at shop.proxy.com).
Mobile Reader Nano: a mobile access reader designed for turnstiles and elevator calls that is so small it can be embedded next to internal card readers to enable mobile access alongside keycard/fob access
Mobile Access Manager: an intuitive access management portal that is used to create, manage, and report on mobile access
Mobile Access Connector: an API-based product that syncs with existing access control systems like C-CURE, Lenel/S2, and Feenics to enable mobile access without having to manage it outside of your existing access control system
Proxy Signal goes beyond access too – you can use it to share relevant data to any device with Bluetooth. Our customers are looking to Proxy Signal to create workspaces that adapt to employees - conference rooms that automatically book themselves when an employee enters, desks that adapt position when a new user arrives, and video conferencing TVs that launch a person's scheduled web conference when they arrive to the meeting.
It’s about the experience, man
One of the things that attracted me to Proxy was that the founders, Denis Mars and Simon Ratner, were user experience fanatics. Products that people love using tend to do pretty well, and as a B2B2C company it’s especially important that end users (i.e. the employees, tenants, residents, and guests of our customers) love Proxy as much as the people actually buying our products.
Think about the early days of Bluetooth – when it worked it was magical, but the pairing experience sucked. If Proxy is to be the digital identity standard for the physical world, it better work everywhere all the time, without you even thinking about it. Fortunately, Bluetooth has matured over the last 10 years, and we now have rock-solid Bluetooth Smart (aka Bluetooth Low Energy), which is the means by which Proxy communicates to other devices. The experience is flawless.
We have a little tradition of throwing a delicious gourmet cheese extravaganza happy hour every time we deploy at a big new building to thank our customers and celebrate the launch of mobile access. There’s a symbolic burning of the keycards - just kidding, they’re toxic - but it is a great opportunity to speak with the actual users of the product, not just the people who buy and deploy it. Two comments really stuck with me from our last launch happy hour at Salesforce tower in San Francisco.
The first was from a gentleman who was a little skeptical at first. He said, “I expected this to be incrementally better, but it’s infinity times better than using keycards!”
The other was from a woman who really captured the essence of what Proxy is all about. She said, “This is how it should work – this is how everything should work.”
These are actual user quotes. I’ve captured them verbatim but have probably failed to capture the excitement and delight in the faces of the people saying them. There’s a real human element to what we’re doing – so many times, when you use technology you are forced into some inconvenient or even inhumane interaction (think automated phone helplines). Proxy is building technology that’s meant to be so human, so natural you don’t even notice it. In fact, it’s the first company I’ve ever met that has an app that’s designed not to be opened. And when people use it, they get that good good feeling.
Privacy matters more in the world you can’t turn off
Our founders’ obsession with user experience is exceeded only by their obsession with privacy. Proxy is dedicated to putting users in control of their data and ensuring that every time data is shared with any device, it’s done with the user’s explicit consent and for a purpose that directly serves the user. Why? Because the digital and physical worlds are merging, and we want to make sure that the tracking and targeting that plagues the online world doesn’t bleed into the physical world – we can’t turn that world off. The stakes are high, so hold us to our commitments – our commitment to creating technology experiences that feel human and our commitment to protecting users’ privacy as we do it.