Facial recognition access control had a less than desirable entry into the market but has since come of age. So says ATG Digital’s Ariel Flax, who explains how the technology has advanced in the last decade.
“There’s a general perception that facial recognition causes more problems than it solves— freezing or not reading. And, initially, yes, that was true. Facial recognition was introduced to the market as an MVP. It quickly lost favour while it was still “learning the ropes”, so to speak,” explains Flax.
Has facial recognition finally earned its stripes? Here’s how it fares against previous obstacles.
Pulling up at a residential estate, especially in COVID times, visitors are reluctant to open their windows—or do so at half-mast. Today’s facial recognition cameras can read through glass.
Flax, “On top of that, the software improves its accuracy and speed as it learns your face over time. It can positively identify from just a part of the face.” This learning proves especially useful when it comes to rain and glare. Reading is reduced from seconds to milliseconds.
Though not a historical problem, it is a topical one that is likely to be around for some time. Now that the technology can accurately verify faces from a partial scan, masks are not a hindrance.
In fact, Flax advises that systems can even be programmed for mask detection, enforcing compliance by only granting access to those “wearing a mask correctly.” According to Flax, the readers can check that the mask covers the nose and mouth as prescribed.
3. Glare, Reflection and Low Light
Partial recognition capabilities come to the rescue again but only for the most part. Flax recommends that facial readers be mounted undercover to block reflection on the device.
“It’s best to have a roof overhead wherever the reader is mounted to benefit the visitor and the equipment. Fortunately, most complex and estate entrances comprise an arch or overhang,” says Flax.
“Most estates will incorporate a roof in their entrance in their design to protect security against weather, mostly rain,” Flax explains. He quips, “The aesthetics are, of course, as important as the function.
Rain—especially on a window—can distort an image, making reading difficult. Facial recognition technology has advanced to the point where the software can recognise a face with only a fragment of an image. However, Flax cautions that this requires learning over time.
5. Internet Connectivity
Proximity cards or tags often win hands down in this area. No one wants their entire access control system to rely on connectivity—mobile or otherwise.
Unlike handheld scanners, which rely on mobile services, facial recognition readers can be mounted on an arm connected to a permanent ethernet cable. “The real kicker, though,” Flax interjects, “is a system that can work offline.”
Flax says this solution works similarly to LRP technology that can store a large amount of database information locally on the device.
6. Remote Visitor Loading
Here’s one surprising benefit to improved visitor management.
If anything were to swing the critics’ vote on facial recognition, this would probably be it. Other biometric access control solutions need people to be physically present to capture their data and load it.
Though laborious, it is possible to load all existing residents, tenants, and staff. Pre-registration of contractors or long-stay visitors gets tricky. Here, Flax explains that facial data can be loaded via digital photographs.
“This functionality can be easily integrated into Protech apps, enabling contractors and guests to consent and upload their image from their phones. No-fuss on the day of arrival’ offers Flax.
He concludes, “The technology has come a long way from its awkward entry to the market. It certainly holds its weight against proximity cards. I believe facial recognition as it stands today deserves a second look.”