New Benchmarks in Biometrics
New high-performance, high-value facial recognition solutions redefine multi-taski
- By Brad Donaldson
- Sep 19, 2022
For too long now, facial recognition technology has been caught in the middle, residing somewhere in between universal and extraordinary. Pervasive enough to accomplish the mundane task of unlocking phones, but also a luxury relegated to Mission Impossible films and big security budgets. Facial biometrics are being recognized now for their full potential to meet a variety of mainstream applications.
For facial biometrics to make the permanent jump from the elite to the mainstream, multiple criteria needed to first align with one of the biggest drivers being market demand. The global pandemic has redefined the role of access control moving forward.
Once relegated almost exclusively for physical security applications, access control has quickly evolved into a three-fold solution, which also now encompasses workforce management and health safety applications. Biometrics readers play a critical role in this transformation due to extreme personal identification and authentication accuracy.
Of equal significance, ongoing technological advancements have effectively lowered the cost of entry for biometrics, particularly in the area of facial recognition readers, with new solutions from highly-respected technology leaders like SAFR from RealNetworks, providing wide user accessibility by establishing new price/performance benchmarks.
This perfect combination of timing and technology has effectively repositioned biometric facial recognition readers from being unattainable to in demand. This provides a highly advanced identity authentication solution with appeal to a much broader base of potential customers across numerous vertical markets – a win-win for both end-users and systems integrators.
A Triple Crown Winner for Security Professionals
Access control technology has always seemed to take a backseat to sexier video surveillance solutions, despite its proven ability to control physical access and egress to protected areas versus video’s legacy role as a deterrent and responsive solution. The practical application of new AI-driven access and video solutions is definitely changing these traditional perspectives with access control now thrust into the limelight for physical security, workforce management and health safety applications.
By adding the extreme personal identification and authentication accuracy of biometric facial recognition to conventional access control platforms, security professionals can leverage their existing investments in access control platforms to provide a much greater range of applications across the enterprise.
Aside from the obvious impact that the global pandemic continues to play in the development and deployment of new physical security solutions, there are a multitude of reasons why biometrics are trending for a myriad physical security applications. Since all individual’s biometric identifiers are different and unique to each individual, they are inherently more secure than any traditional, manufactured physical access credentialing devices.
Biometric identities also cannot be lost, stolen, replicated, or forgotten, providing both a tremendous convenience for users by eliminating the need to carry access credentials, as well as a tremendous cost-saving benefit for organizations that can virtually eliminate the use of physical credentials.
Multimodal forms of identity authentication can be as simple as requiring a pin or QR code, providing an added layer of security when required.
New plug-and-play biometric facial recognition readers deployed for access control embedded with enhanced security benefits beyond what legacy access control and other biometric systems offer. For starters, facial recognition is frictionless, allowing users to move through entry/egress points quickly and efficiently without having to stop or touch anything.
Users need only glance at the device to gain access. In cases of tailgating or piggybacking, advanced facial recognition devices will detect such infractions and issue alerts for real-time risk mitigation, a feature that conventional access control readers simply cannot accommodate without supplemental devices such as video cameras.
Advanced facial recognition devices are also inherently by design video devices, capable of providing video monitoring at exterior and interior entry/egress locations. With the addition of two-way audio, these same devices are also effectively video intercoms. The ability to function as a fully integrated access reader, video camera and video intercom promise to reduce equipment purchase and installation costs, further increasing return on investment (ROI) and decreasing total cost of ownership (TCO) associated with maintaining these otherwise disparate system capabilities.
Facial recognition solutions are also getting smarter in addressing fundamental risks. For example, advanced new anti-spoofing technology employs 3D structured light and RGB based algorithms to ensure user liveliness. As a result, devices with anti-spoofing technology cannot be fooled by pictures or images of enrolled persons. This also prevents bad actors from gaining access to protected areas, and virtually eliminating the risk of false-positive results.
While facial recognition technology is most commonly associated with access control, its application as a workforce management tool is gaining traction at a rapid pace. Biometric facial recognition solutions are ideal for time and attendance applications for many of the same reasons as access control. Buddy punching, wherein an employee asks a colleague to “clock-in” or “badge-in” on their behalf, is a frequent problem of traditional time and attendance solutions - a problem that often goes undetected and negatively impacts an organization’s bottom line. Since facial recognition with anti-spoofing technology requires the authenticating user to be on site, buddy punching is rendered impossible.
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent Great Resignation has led to drastic changes in the workforce and the workplace. Hybrid work models are more common than ever, posing significant challenges for access, reporting, and time and attendance purposes. With legacy access systems, if a new employee or a contingent worker is enrolled, they must receive physical access credentials, often without highly defined restrictions. If the employee is terminated, their physical credential must be terminated as well. Often physical access is not revoked or done so in a timely manner, creating a threat to employees and assets.
Constantly issuing and revoking physical credentials is both costly and inefficient. Facial recognition negates such complications. With facial recognition systems, administrators can grant and revoke access instantly without worrying about stocking physical credentials, mailing them out, or any other administrative tasks required of a remote workforce. Smart biometric systems go as far as integrating with additional, existing business systems such as Human Resources, ensuring attendance and payroll functions are always accurate.
Effective facial recognition solutions also function as viable visitor management solutions. Unlike legacy access systems or paper logs, facial recognition systems allow guests to register for, request, and receive touchless access to a facility prior to arriving on-site. Once an administrator receives a self-provided photo from a visitor, access can be remotely granted. Once the visitor arrives, they need only approach the unmanned entrance and present their face to the biometric unit to receive access. This self-enrollment feature is touchless and frictionless, saving organizations from laborious tasks and providing real-time visitor records.
Health Safety Applications
Pre-pandemic, biometrics facial recognition solutions were ahead of the curve, creating a touchless user experience that can help reduce the spread of germs on common touch surfaces. At the height of the pandemic, stand-alone facial recognition solutions acknowledged for their accurate mask detection and occupancy counting capabilities. These solutions were quickly integrated with existing access systems, ensuring individuals entering a controlled area are equipped with the proper protections without exceeding any imposed occupancy limitation. Locations ranging from restaurants to airports deployed biometric facial recognition solutions to help maintain health safety protocols and mitigate liabilities; capabilities that will most surely last far beyond the pandemic.
Organizations are now increasingly looking to deploy biometric facial recognition readers to maintain safe and healthful workplaces. A frictionless solution, facial biometric readers ensure fast throughput to keep people moving, which is especially important during peak hours and shift changes at large facilities. No more crowding in front of conventional card or proximity readers as employees look for their credentials. Although these delays account for only a few seconds per incident, the impact on productivity can be extreme when factored across hundreds or thousands of employees experiencing delays every day over the course of a year and beyond.
Implications for Systems Integrators
As end users stand to benefit from new biometrics facial recognition readers for mainstream applications, so do systems integrators. Offering high-performance, high-value biometrics biometric solutions provide a viable path to new streams of revenue as the demand for these devices continues to increase exponentially. Smart biometric facial recognition readers also enable systems integrators to offer remotely managed services such as cloud-based access management, detailed reporting functions, and mobile user enrollment. Such services directly equate to increased recurring monthly revenue (RMR) opportunities for integrators and sustained growth and profitability.
Systems integrators previously limited to installs in small to medium businesses can now offer biometric facial recognition readers as a system enhancement for larger enterprise level systems. Prime targets include healthcare, higher education, corporate campuses, factories, and other organizations that manage large numbers of identities where the demand for highly accurate, multi-purposed solutions are in demand. Similarly, integrators can also access many SMB operations priced out of reliable biometric solutions.
The mainstream acceptance of high-performance, high-value biometrics facial recognition devices shows no signs of slowing. Today’s plug-and-play solutions provide an affordable, fast, and pragmatic solution for mainstream applications, beyond even those discussed here. Look to such solutions as the new benchmark for personal identification and authentication applications beyond traditional physical security for myriad business intelligence applications.
This article originally appeared in the September / October 2022 issue of Security Today.
Brad Donaldson is the vice president, Computer Vision and general manager at SAFR from RealNetworks.