RFID-facial recognition combo comes to Canada

A Montreal-based radio frequency identification consulting and engineering company has partnered with a Chicago-based manufacturer of RFID technology to sell in Canada a multi-authentication platform that can combine, among other options, facial recognition and RFID.

The combination, the companies said, eliminates the risk of copying presented by physical contact such as fingerprint recognition. The technology platform, Trusted eSentry Security (TES), is provided by American RFID Solutions and Canadian market expertise by RFID ProSolutions.

The CEO and founder of American RFID Solutions, Harold Clampitt, said that finger or hand print recognition requires contact with the system, thereby making it fairly easy to extract and duplicate the sample, so “the nice thing about facial recognition is it’s got more barriers to duplication.”

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A uniform approach to RFID

However, he added, the multi-factor system would require that the person trying to gain access also has an RFID-enabled card that holds an encrypted and compressed series of digital information that’s essentially a unique digital watermark.

The platform allows other options like fingerprint, iris and voice identification plus a number pad. But the out-of-the-box package combines facial recognition and RFID because of its enhanced security rendered by lack of contact. But additionally, said Clampitt, employees doing menial labour can easily present their face for access and not be concerned about injuries or grease to the hands in the case of a hand or print reader.

But while the companies tout the face/RFID system as the optimal combination, the other options are offered merely because customers are still demanding them, said Jebb Nucci, vice-president of business development with RFID ProSolutions.

The offering is targeted at a number of different sectors, but primarily those businesses that need to manage highly-sensitive information, said Nucci. For instance, customers are research and development labs in the aerospace and pharmaceutical industries as well as financial services, where “they need a second level of security there, and having a security guard is not always cost effective.”

In the case of the pharmaceutical industry, regulations around the handling of narcotics require the presence of a registered pharmacist within the facility. The TES platform can capture employees’ faces upon entry to ensure a predetermined sequence of facial images is met.

Options for deployment ensure legacy compatibility with existing systems by way of formatting and sharing data in Extensible Markup Language (XML), said Clampitt.

According to James Quin, senior research analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group Inc., while facial and hand-based authentication are equally as secure in terms of their ability to authenticate a user, he agreed that the latter “can leave a print or pattern behind that can be lifted or utilized.”

However, there are drawbacks to a biometric component, said Quin, in that the more a system scales to eliminate false positives, the likelihood of false negatives increase, and vice versa. But Quin added that, in theory, the TES platform has addressed that issue given the high success rate the companies tout.

Quin also pointed out that the platform extrapolates from a two-dimensional image of someone’s face, but when “using a 2D of a 3D, obviously one of the big factors is going to be how you position yourself in front of the camera.”

There is a market for the facial recognition/RFID system, said Quin, albeit not a huge one.

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