BY DEBORAH L. O’MARA
BIOMETRIC TECHNOLOGY HAS BEEN IN USE FOR ABOUT TWO DECADES.
It measures a person’s physical and behavioral characteristics, providing details that can
be used to make more complete identifications. It can be used for access control, or to
specifically identify who or what is trying to gain entrance to a facility or location. Common methods include facial recognition, retinal or iris scans, and fingerprint readings.
Biometric identification has become more reliable and easier to program and use. It integrates readily with other solutions, such as CC TV and
video management systems. The general public is increasingly becoming
accustomed to it. Users can be enrolled quickly in databases with less
chance of false positives or false identifications. Because biometrics
provide a higher level of identification and authentication, the technology is also less prone to cyber threats and malicious takeovers. It also
offers faster throughput (access to the facility), better accuracy and falling price points.
Consumers crave convenience and functionality
Larry Reed, chief executive officer of ZKAccess LLC, Fairfield, N.J., said
there seems to be a shift in biometric access-control deployment.
“In the past, biometrics were reserved for high-value asset locations
only,” he said. “There was a mindset to use it only on specific doors, rather
than throughout a facility. Now that biometrics is more cost effective and
prevalent in society [as seen on many smartphone models], we are seeing biometrics deployed throughout the entire facility in some instances.”
As with any other new technology, the key is to thoroughly understand
the environment for the application and implementation.
“With so many spy thrillers and science-fiction movies out in the the-
aters, sometimes it’s difficult for everyday consumers to decipher between
fiction and reality,” Reed said. “If the consumer sees James Bond using
a biometric reader for door access, the consumer tends to believe the
technology exists and functions as seen in the movie and that it works
with the same reliability. However, for biometrics to work [in reality], you
need to thoroughly understand the environment in which biometrics will
be installed … and, if you do your homework, it works wonderfully. Bio-
metrics provides the highest level of both security and convenience [that]
card readers can never match.
“However, in factories or businesses with dusty conditions, some
biometric technology may not work as expected. Same thing with frigid
outdoor environments or areas with too much sunlight, which are other
examples of environments in which biometrics may not be effective. Security contractors need to learn how and where to deploy biometrics in
order to have successful results and keep their customers happy,” he said.
Convenience is a determining factor in the mainstreaming of biometrics.
“If the power of convenience is great enough, you will see a definite
shift in biometric adoption,” Reed said. “For instance, convenience demanded the integration of a fingerprint sensor in one’s smartphone so
users no longer need to memorize their personal identification number
[PIN] code to unlock their phone. Until convenience improves 10 times
over, you’re not likely to see biometric readers installed on every door.
However, we are moving in that direction. As mentioned, consumers are
definitely becoming more aware of biometrics because of smartphones
and laptops and will adopt biometrics when they can see it improving their
lives. Nothing really changes until the consumer demands it.”
Until then, most contractors will continue limiting themselves to the
tools they are most comfortable with, such as card readers.
Global research supports the overall growth of biometrics. According
to research firm IHS, Englewood, Colo., global biometrics will rise from
$278 million in 2015 to $412 million in 2019 and grow about 10 percent
Is the World
New form factors,
ease of use and higher
comfort levels may