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2023 access control trend survey: Touchless, multimodal biometrics gain ground

2023 access control trend survey: Touchless, multimodal biometrics gain ground
Building management integration and touchless biometrics both ranked high in technical maturity and market suitability. Multimodal biometrics, where users are authenticated by more than one biometric modality, are gaining ground.
Sponsored by ZKTeco, this year's Security 50 access control technology survey sees building management integration and touchless biometrics both ranking high in terms of technical maturity and market suitability. Meanwhile, multimodal biometrics, where users are authenticated by more than one biometric modality, are gaining ground. This article takes a closer look.

Building management integration

Building management integrated with access control ranks the highest in suitability. In terms of maturity, it clinched a high spot as well. Indeed, more and more users are turning to building management-access control integration due to its various benefits, including one-stop management and energy savings.
“The modern building environment is a complex network of numerous systems, including air conditioning, water drainage, plumbing, electricity, fire alarms, security systems, and home or office automation systems. Managing each of these systems independently can be a daunting task, often leading to inefficiencies and increased likelihood of errors. More and more building owners and operators are recognizing the value of a unified platform that brings together the management of all these systems,” said Raymond So, Head of Marketing at ZKTeco.
He added: “In a well-integrated building management system, there is a high degree of interaction between different systems and devices. For instance, an access control system can be integrated with the lighting and HVAC systems to automatically adjust the environment based on occupancy. This level of interaction enhances building security, increases energy efficiency, and improves the overall user experience by creating a more intuitive and responsive environment.”

Touchless vs. touch biometrics

For biometrics, the survey shows touchless biometrics such as face and iris recognition ranks high in both suitability and maturity. Touch biometrics, meanwhile, rank the highest in maturity. This is understandable, as touch biometric, mainly fingerprint, have been in use for decades. Yet, the value of touchless biometrics are also being realized, especially in the post-pandemic era.
“Touch biometrics have been around for decades and are widely deployed for access control applications. So, yes, we agree they are more mature in terms of their acceptance and maturity in the marketplace,” said Brian DeGonia, Director for Biometric Solution Enablement, Extended Access Technologies at HID. “Touchless biometrics however are gaining ground quickly due to the frictionless, ease of use and the ability to operate without contacting a surface that may be of health concern. The performance of touchless matching algorithms is improving quickly and drastically to have the same characteristics as their touch counterparts.”
“The growing prominence of touchless biometrics is shaped by factors such as hygiene, user-friendliness, speed, cultural considerations, and market trends. Despite this, touch-based biometrics continue to hold their ground owing to their maturity and familiarity among users,” So said. “At ZKTeco, we are committed to advancing both touch and touchless biometric technologies to cater to our diverse global clientele. Our focus remains on delivering cutting-edge, reliable, and user-friendly biometric solutions that align with evolving market needs and trends.”

“AI-based identity solutions and touchless biometrics have gained deep adoption in the access control realm. This is a result of the outcome for a sustainable solution during the pandemic outcry for a safe and secure access control solution, requiring a hands-free contactless proposition. The advent of AI and the steep innovation and improvement over the recent years has also accelerated and push the adoption curve towards a new behavior and trust for contactless biometrics for access management and identity management,” said Alex Tan, Regional Sales Head for ASEAN at IDEMIA. “The requirement for hard credentials or digital cards will get softer by each year as ESG initiatives and governance comes center stage for every enterprise – be it at local or governmental level. This is also driven by the fact that biometrics are virtually perpetual in nature requiring little to no credentialing after support.”

Multimodal biometrics pick up steam

The survey further finds unimodal biometrics ranking higher on maturity, while multimodal biometrics are not as mature but are gaining ground in suitability. Indeed, multimodal biometrics are seeing increased adoption due to certain benefits.
“These include higher accuracy, where multimodal biometrics can reduce the error rates and increase the confidence levels of the system by combining the strengths of different modalities and compensating for the weaknesses of each one; higher security, where multimodal biometrics can prevent spoofing attacks and enhance the privacy of the users by requiring more than one biometric trait to grant access; and higher user convenience, where multimodal biometrics can offer more flexibility and choice to the users by allowing them to select the most suitable and comfortable modality for a given situation,” said Hanchul Kim, CEO of Suprema.
However, multimodal biometrics also have some challenges and limitations that make them less mature than unimodal biometrics. These include higher cost and complexity, less stable infrastructure. Yet these can be overcome in time.
“Multimodal biometrics have a great potential to overcome their current limitations and become more mature and widely used in the future as the technology evolves and the market demand changes overtime,” Kim said.
“Multimodal biometrics are increasing in use for identification. For authentication, unimodal works quite well and is very mature. But for large-scale identification use cases or in applications that require a higher level of security and assurance, multimodal biometrics can be used to disambiguate where a unimodal biometric may match more than one person. By using more than one biometric factor, you get better assurance that you’ve identified the correct person,” DeGonia said.

However this is not to negate the popularity of unimodal solutions which some said would stick around for a while. “This is in line with human behavioral mechanics where people are simply more geared towards doing simpler or lesser gesture in attaining the same outcome. Take for instance making a phone call, one with the early 1900’s rotary dial gesture versus the late 1960’s push-button gesture. Even despite saving only a few seconds in the process, convenience and speed is the driver that brought about the demise of the rotary dial phones. As convenience and accuracy takes center stage, touchless unimodal authentication like facial recognition or fingerprint technology will make up the vast majority of authentication modality. It is hard to beat the convenience of not bringing anything but yourself (something that you are) instead of having to hold or wear something (something that you have or carry),” Tan said.

He added: “In the past, only sensitive areas/doors will require multimodal technology to ensure effective security posture at that area. The same is for the field of IAM like making important transactions like payment. Thus, multimodal in its true use case is meant for important transactions; otherwise inaccuracy may happen in certain unimodal technologies. Hence, the value of any biometrics is to get its 1:N function to work accurately with speed and inclusion. Just look at how we unlock our phone, do we use multimodal to unlock it? No. multimodal is only to heighten the security stance for special environment/use case.”

Dual biometrics

At this time, multimodal biometrics are mostly dual-modal, namely using two modalities to authenticate. According to our survey, face-fingerprint and face-palm rank higher in both suitability and maturity than palm-fingerprint.
Our interviewees mostly agreed with the results. “When thinking about duo-modal biometrics, you often look to use different, distinct body features. A hand consists of both the fingers and the palm. As a result, you commonly see face-fingerprint implementations since these technologies are readily available in the market and in form factors that can be easily integrated,” DeGonia said.
"Face-fingerprint is one of the most common and popular duo-modal biometric technologies, as it combines two of the most widely used and reliable biometric modalities. Face-palm is a relatively new duo-modal biometric technology, but it has gained a lot of attention and interest in recent years. It combines face recognition with palm print or palm vein recognition, which are both contactless and robust modalities. It has been applied in some emerging applications, such as health care, banking, education. Face-palm offers high performance, privacy, hygiene, and flexibility,” Kim said.
He added: “Face-fingerprint and face-palm are both suitable for applications that require high levels of security and convenience. They can provide fast and accurate verification or identification with minimal user interaction and effort. They can also prevent spoofing attacks and protect user privacy by requiring more than one biometric trait to grant access.
According to Kim, palm-fingerprint is a less common and less mature duo-modal biometric technology. “It combines two contact-based modalities that require different sensors and capture methods. It has been used in some niche applications, such as forensic investigation, criminal identification,” he said. “Palm-fingerprint is less suitable for applications that require high levels of security and convenience. It can provide high uniqueness and diversity of biometric features, but it also requires more user interaction and effort to capture both modalities. It can also be affected by environmental factors, such as dirt, moisture and temperature that can degrade the quality of the biometric images.”

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