The coronavirus pandemic is a worldwide threat and the potential consequences are unlike anything most of us have ever experienced. The live events industry has been directly affected as concerts, sporting events and music festivals have been cancelled or postponed, and other industries are feeling an indirect impact. Fewer office workers are available to spend money for lunch or coffee breaks as companies start to transition to employees working from home. At Blink Identity, we’ve been working in biometric identification for over a decade, and we have begun to think about what effects the pandemic will have on our industry and how it will fundamentally change the way we do things in the future.
The most common biometric modality is the fingerprint. Many organizations have issued directives to stop using fingerprint biometrics in the face of the coronavirus threat. At the surface this makes sense – do employees want to touch something that every other employee has touched? On the other hand, the physical world is full of things that unknown others have touched – door handles, light switches, refrigerator handle, etc. Companies can begin to periodically sanitize anything that is frequently touched – including both door handles and fingerprint sensors, but it’s impossible to completely sanitize the world. Biometric based access control is typically used because additional security is needed so you have to consider the cost of a reduction in security you are paying to increase hygiene. A crisis like COVID-19 might be the perfect opportunity for malicious actors to exploit weaknesses and distractions.
A trend that was already underway before the COVID-19 pandemic was a shift to touchless biometric technologies. There are many touchless technologies on the market; facial recognition, iris scanners, and touchless fingerprint sensors are all widely available. We pride ourselves in our deep knowledge and experience with different biometric technologies and normally think about which modality is the right one for a given application. When you think about touchless biometrics, it’s obvious to move towards facial recognition technology. There are many reasons for this – facial recognition is easy to use and the overall performance make it suitable for many different environments. Touchless fingerprint systems are not suitable for outdoor environments generally, let alone any type of rugged environment like construction sites or refineries. Iris recognition requires expensive proprietary hardware and tends to be difficult to use. The user must bring their eye quite close to the scanner and remain very still without blinking.
Blink Identity’s solution is the most powerful facial recognition device on the market with a 1:N capacity of 1,000,000 users and an identification speed of less than 1/4 second. We are the only system that supports full walking speed identification. While facial recognition has gained some notoriety as of late, it’s important to understand that not all facial recognition technology is the creepy kind; facial recognition technology used in conjunction with CCTV video for potential mass surveillance or passive tracking of people raises some serious ethical questions. Our system is very different. Users must first consent to be enrolled, biometric templates are encrypted and stored securely, and our system is always visible and obvious – you always know when and if you are being identified by our system.
In summary, a few key takeaways would be:
- Everyone can take reasonable precautions to avoid contracting and spreading the illness including frequent hand washing, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer and cleaning frequently touched surfaces with sanitizing wipes.
- Touchless biometric products have been gaining popularity even before the Coronavirus outbreak and we expect this trend to accelerate perhaps due to fear of future contagions more so that then the current pandemic.
- When choosing a touchless biometric solution, we recommend facial recognition due to ease-of-use, performance, the availability of products like Blink Identity which are suitable for different environments.
Our expert sales team is here to help you through tough decisions concerning your use of biometrics or your larger security and workforce management scheme. If you’ve been considering our identity solution for your organization, please reach out and book a consultation with us today.