Kent commits to FST21

Technology sounds too good to be true, but they're believers
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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla.—When Kent Security was presented with a job providing access control for a police station located in a trendy Bell Harbor shopping center here, company CEO Gil Neuman thought it might be a good chance to try out some new technology from FST21, an Israeli biometrics/access control company that entered the US market late last year. Combining facial and other biometrics, the company provides access control points that are both quick with through-put and unobtrusive, while maintaining high security. Essentially, you walk through the space, maybe say a few words, and then you’re either allowed in or you’re not.

The problem?

“We’re paying a certain price for being pioneers,” Neuman said. When he, himself, was presented with the technology pitch, “I had that, ‘it’s too good to be true’ reaction, too. I said, ‘With all due respect, I just don’t believe it.’” However, after three months of testing it as the access control for the Kent headquarters here, “I had the comfort level I needed. Only then would I praise it in public.”

Neuman said it has already won him some jobs in the elder care market, for example, as those customers tend to be unwilling to use fingerprint scanners or iris scanners for various reasons. With FST21, they hardly know they’re being scanned.

Then there’s the fear of the price of such technology to overcome, along with questions about whether it’s smart to install technology that no one else seems to be able to replicate.

“The biggest barrier is education,” he said.

“It’s very hard for people to understand the positioning of what we do,” allowed Avi Lupo, GM of FST21 Americas. He encourages people to think of the technology as just one step below a doorman. “The basic thing is that it’s the closest thing to the human brain,” he said. “It knows you and talks to you. Doormen listen to what people say and based on that, they take action, and this is what the system is.”

The technology also fits well with Kent’s guarding business, Neuman said. Though the company has 1,400 employees, most of them guards, the company is constantly looking to eliminate hours. “We try to integrate technology into every one of our customers,” he said. “We’re not a one-level company. We try to say, ‘Why don’t we cut manpower, cut a shift, and let’s use technology’ ... That gives us tremendous credibility. If we cut one shift, eight hours at night, you pay for the system in the first year, and every year afterward it’s pure savings.”