Call it creepy if you like, but many companies are beginning to embrace biometrics like fingerprint scanning and facial recognition – especially for security purposes. If you’re wondering which method might be best for you, here’s a guide by Marc Aptakin
Here is your primer on biometric technology, and why you as an HR manager should pay attention to each:
What: Retinal scanners are one of the most commercialized forms of biometric technology, though it’s only recently burst onto the business scene. Retinal scanners identify individuals by the unique patterns of their retinas. A variation of this technology is the iris scanner, which evaluates the unique patterns of blood vessels at the back of the eye to identify an individual. Retinal scanners are most commonly used for authentication purposes.
Who: HR managers of high-security work environments, for example government offices, should consider installing retinal scanners at the various points of entry within their building. Private security firms, financial institutions or medical offices can also benefit from retinal scanners that keep computers and other data-sensitive machines on lockdown.
Why: False positives are rare, the technology is reliable, results are delivered in 30 seconds or less, and the measurements are considered to be very accurate. Also consider, however, the high equipment costs associated with retinal and iris scanners.
What: The science of fingerprint recognition dates back decades, but has recently gained a lot of popularity. Apple’s newest iteration of the iPhone even incorporates a reader and with some recent large-scale integrations of the technology in the manufacturing and government sectors, it has become a popular biometric baseline for professionals. The analysis involves a comparison of three basic patterns of the ridges on our fingerprints, which are unique to every individual.
Who: Fingerprint scanners are most commonly used by police and other law enforcement units where restricted access is a concern. HR representatives managing offices where sensitive documents are being exchanged (i.e. law offices) can also benefit from the added authentication fingerprint scanners provide. Hotels, restaurants and city workers have already integrated fingerprint time clocks into their payroll systems.
Why: Like retinal scanners, the results are quick, accurate and pain-free. Fingerprints cannot be forgotten like a password and they cannot be lost like a key or access card. Scanners can sometimes, however, be tricked by those who gets their hands on a set of prints and can be as unhygienic or more so than traditional keypads and time clocks.
What: Facial recognition is the newest of the big three in biometric technology. A computer application automatically identifies individuals by their faces using algorithms, feature measurements, 3D sensors or even skin analyses. Another popular method is to compare select facial features to a database of images.
Who: Facial recognition is at its best when used as a time clock system, and when integrated into computers, tablets or even mobile devices. Human resource executives of any industry where hourly employees clock in and out of work can benefit from the technology. Manufacturing plants, retail stores, restaurants and fast food chains enjoy a speedier, more sanitary time clock alternative with facial recognition, which is one of the key differentiators.
Why: Like its counterparts, facial recognition delivers fast and safe results. Setup is simple, all of the information is accessible in real-time and when used as a time clock it can be significantly more affordable than traditional payroll systems. However, because the technology can be sensitive under certain ambient conditions, HR professionals must be aware of the environments in which they plan to implement such systems.
Marc Aptakin is the founder and CEO of Timesly, the first facial detection time clock app for iPad, now available via the App Store. This piece has been edited according to HRM America’s discretion.