Hand, fingerprint readers can work in harmony for greater security

Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Hand and fingerprint readers cover 80 percent of biometric access control applications. They are complementary, as each meets specific needs in the market. When using these two technologies under a single platform, dealers, integrators and users can create technology alternatives, fitting the appropriate biometric technology to each and every access point.

Both hand readers and fingerprint readers recognize people, not plastic cards. For locations with card systems, they provide an additional layer of higher security to vital entrances or doors, assuring that lost or stolen cards are not later used to access facilities. They assure that, in other words, ’you are you.’ For locations not using such cards, these biometric technologies are very easy to supervise since nobody forgets to bring their hands or fingers to work and there are no hands or fingers for administrators to manage.

Hand readers can handle any population volume with ease, while providing impeccable reliability. With dramatically lower false reject and failure to enroll rates, the value of hand readers grows as the number of users and transactions increases. Not only do they keep the bad guys out, biometric hand readers ensure the good guys gain access in any size application. This flexibility is why this type of system can cost a little more.

So, it is not surprising that in small applications with 50 to upwards of 100 people, the inconvenience caused by the higher error rates of fingerprint readers is not a major issue. However, when 100 or more people create large numbers of transactions, such as 50,000 to 250,000 daily transactions at San Francisco International Airport for example, it is a very big deal.

For similar reasons, it is also extremely easy to enroll people with hand readers, which have a miniscule failure to enroll of only 0.01%, ensuring that populations large and small will be able to use the system. This is extremely important when enrolling 100 or more people. The patience level for both user and administrator drops dramatically when constant exceptions must be made to accommodate those who can not enroll, not to mention the increased security risks.

Hand readers are also the choice if the installation is either outdoors or in harsh environments. The core technology of the unit lets it work in inclement weather, including in extreme low or high temperature zones. Special enclosures fight off vandals and wind storms while still making access easy for the user. Both hand readers and fingerprint readers are at ease in office environments.

Where fingerprint readers bring value

Fingerprint readers complement hand readers by being a low-cost biometric that is best used on doors accessed by less than 100 people. In these applications, the total number of transactions tends to be fairly low. Therefore, issues generated by the higher error rates exhibited in fingerprint technology ends up being a minor inconvenience rather than a major hassle. Yet, adding the biometric technology provides a huge increase in security over a “card only” system.

For these low volume openings, cost is a key consideration and fingerprint products meet that need. For instance, a fingerprint reader is ideal for a lab area accessed by 10 to 30 people. Traditionally, this has been a major growth area for fingerprint products. They’ll also squeeze into small areas, such as those found near the door to medical cabinets.

By using both biometrics, customers and integrators can mix and match hand readers and fingerprint readers within the same facilities, ensuring the best combination of cost and technology is implemented at every door.

Bill Spence, director of marketing for IR Recognition Systems, is a veteran and authority of both the biometrics and security industries. He has written for and been quoted by numerous publications on biometric security solutions. He can be reached at bill_spence@irco.com.