Hi-Tech Security Solutions hosted an online conference in mid-August to highlight the new trend towards touchless access control. The conference hosted speakers with experience in the access control, biometric and touchless biometrics arena.
The conference was sponsored by three companies: Hikvision was the Platinum sponsor, while IDEMIA and Suprema were Gold sponsors.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, touchless access control has suddenly become very important. We have seen facial recognition technologies advancing over the years, for example, but we now have an urgent need to implement it – as well as other biometric and traditional access technologies that don’t require common touch points.
In our recent Residential Estate Security Handbook, one system integrator mentioned that his customers were either moving quickly to the latest touchless biometric solutions, or those with limited budgets were reverting to the old card and fob systems, which also avoids touching any common surfaces.
Although facial recognition gets all the attention these days, especially when combining access control and identity verification with temperature monitoring, it is worth remembering that there are other touchless biometrics out there – from fingerprint biometrics to palm-vein and iris, etc.
Naturally, the growth of touchless technologies is not restricted to access control, with different systems finding a foothold in homes and businesses around the world. As an example, there are five types of touchless technology that can be used around the workplace today, and which we will see more of in future.
Gesture recognition is the most common form of no-touch technology. Users can do simple gestures to control or interact with devices without touching them. Waving your hand to trigger an automatic door, for example, removes the need to touch handles or a physical button.
Touchless sensing can detect the presence or motion of a person under a sensor. Like gesture recognition, touchless sensing has become rather commonplace in our everyday lives. Every one of us has gone through an automatic door at a grocery store, hotel, or commercial building.
Voice recognition systems let users interact with technology simply by speaking to it. This has become popular in our homes, with smartphones and in certain call centres.Facial recognition takes things one step further since it doesn’t require a conscious effort by the user as they walk towards a reader, and some solutions can recognise more than one person at the same time.
Personal devices. For technology to be completely touch-free, it must operate without the need for physical contact, as in the examples above. But the introduction of smartphones and other personal devices have made nearly touch-free technology possible as well. Anything that operates at the command of your own personal device allows you to avoid touching public surfaces.
The conference was launched with a keynote by independent business consultant Mark Paynter from TerPay Security Advisors. With a number of years’ experience in the access control market, including a number focused on biometric technology, Paynter set the scene with a presentation that offered a brief look at the history of access control, specifically biometrics, as well as some of the potential solutions of the future.
Today we have quickly been introduced to the idea of facial recognition and we have seen these technologies improving rapidly to meet the needs of the pandemic and its associated regulations. However, there are other options for the future, such as DNA, which can’t yet be done on the fly with the technology we have today.
Paynter offered attendees a look into the realities of touchless technologies today, but also highlighted some of the questions that still remain in terms of privacy and overreach by governments and those with malicious intent. We need to remember that the more complex technology becomes, the more opportunity there is for underhanded exploitation.
Following Paynter, Hikvision, the Platinum sponsor, was up next. Ruaal Tromp, project sales manager at Hikvision, took a few minutes to tell the audience about Hikvision’s range of facial recognition products. The MinMoe solutions are available in a variety of price ranges and formats, as well as with additional functionality.
To deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the facial recognition systems include temperature reading on the fly and can even present a questionnaire on the device’s screen to check visitors for symptoms before allowing them to enter.
Tromp then highlighted how the MinMoe solutions have already been integrated into a variety of locally developed solutions for access control, visitor management and more. Closing the presentation, Tromp briefly presented some local case studies where the technology is already in operation.
Making the right decision
The decision as to which biometric system to buy is not simple. While it may be desirable or even necessary to make an investment now to meet the regulations in terms of allowing access in a COVID-19 world, budgets are not exactly free flowing and companies need to ensure their choice of solution can stand the test of time for many years.
Nicolas Garcia, sales director (Biometric Terminals), Middle East and Africa for IDEMIA, was up next speaking on how to make the right decision. Garcia highlighted why biometrics are ideal for the COVID-19 era and have evolved to the point where they can be trusted – especially touchless fingerprint systems, but also increasingly facial recognition solutions.
Garcia suggested that the solution chosen must have a lifespan of at least five to seven years – perhaps even more in the current economy. In addition, one needs a system that can be adjusted/upgraded when required and has a proven track record in various sites.
They must also be future-proofed with features such as artificial intelligence and be able to integrate with other leading brands. Also important in today’s world, the solutions chosen must comply with privacy regulations such as PoPIA and GDPR.
Leor Flaum, technical director of Veracitech, was up next. He gave the delegates a few insights into how touchless systems have been set up in the real world. This covers everything from facial recognition or card readers (which are also touchless) to identify a person, which are then integrated with temperature readers and even electronic questionnaires asking COVID-appropriate questions. Flaum also demonstrated touchscreens that ask people seeking entry the right questions, but don’t actually require people to touch the screen – a touchless touchscreen if you will.
He showed an in-house demonstration Veracitech built comprising various access products, such as above, which will automatically open a door or not, or notify the appropriate people if someone has symptoms which need further attention.
The event ended with a question and answer session including all the sponsors. Ruaal Tromp represented Hikvision, Walter Rautenbach was on hand on behalf of Suprema, and Nicolas Garcia represented IDEMIA.
All the sponsors have recently released facial recognition technologies. Hikvision has released the MinMoe range, as noted above; IDEMIA has released its VisionPass solution to complement its MorphoWave touchless fingerprint reader; Suprema has also released its latest FaceStation facial recognition product, among others.
However, as Rautenbach noted, these systems are not new as the companies have been working on them for a number of years and we are only seeing the results of this work today. Additionally, following on from Garcia’s presentation on selecting the right solution, Rautenbach added that it is worth noting that the pandemic has suddenly made people take notice of touchless technologies and we now have many new products hitting the market.
“There is an abundance of newcomers trying to enter the market with low cost, immature products that do not work. These products might help employers seem proactive, but will result in wasteful expenditure, security breaches, and can even cause inaccurate workforce reporting.”
For companies that want to adhere to Garcia’s five to seven year lifespan, the ‘cheap-and-nasty’ products will not make the grade.
Along with Hikvision, all the sponsors highlighted the work their companies have done and are doing in ensuring their products can be integrated with broader solutions, both international products and home-grown.
Hi-Tech Security Solutions wishes to thank the sponsors for making the event possible and especially the attendees for taking the time to attend and putting some challenging questions to the presenters and sponsors.
The YouTube link for the conference video is at https://youtu.be/KTBTLeyc8ik.
Contact the sponsors:
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