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Q&A: Will new building security systems soon be based on biometrics?

AI, facial recognition, and biometrics can help the world get back to work.

Security is changing rapidly and this includes the way people interact with software. For this, there have been rapid advances with biometrics. These advances have centred on artificial intelligence.

To gain an insight as to how the security world is undergoing digital transformation, Digital Journal spoke with Rob Glaser, Chairman and CEO, RealNetworks®, Inc.

Digital Journal: Can you provide a brief background on RealNetworks?

Rob Glaser: RealNetworks has a proud history of innovation. We launched our founding product, RealAudio, in 1995. It was the world’s first commercial streaming media platform and unleashed a revolution in media. Over the past 27 years, we’ve continued to innovate in digital media and our streaming media products have been used by hundreds of millions of users around the world.

Starting about 5 years ago, we moved to make Machine Learning-based Artificial Intelligence the center of our innovation, product, and business focus.  We have 2 main AI initiatives – SAFR, a world class Computer Vision platform, and KONTXT, a world class Natural Language Processing platform.   As we analyzed the market for SAFR and Computer Vision, we discovered an opportunity for deep innovation by integrating great software with great hardware, and decided to create SAFR SCAN, our first integrated hardware/software product.

DJ: You just launched SAFR SCAN™. What is the solution meant for and what are its key differentiators?

Glaser: After 2 years of remote and hybrid work, the work place has changed. The return to the office creates new opportunities to make workplaces safer for both staff and companies. The costs of deploying new technologies such as Computer Vision have come way down, and reliability and performance have gone way up.  

Seeing the opportunity to create a breakthrough product, we created SAFR SCAN, the first integrated hardware-software product we’ve built in Real’s 27-year history.    

SAFR SCAN is the first computer vision access control device built for broad market adoption. We say this because it’s super-fast, highly accurate, very reliable, and a price-performance breakthrough. Our SAFR platform is the fastest, most compact highly reliable facial recognition platform on the market, so we’re able to build a complete hardware/software product and deliver it for a price that’s less than half of what previous generation products cost.   

This means that a SAFR SCAN access control door station is affordable – from a TCO (total cost of ownership) standpoint, it basically costs the same as a traditional key card reader, while delivering so much more value and safety to customers. No tailgating. No passing keycards to unauthorized people. Full video forensics in the case of any issues.   

DJ: How are you addressing privacy and security concerns around the use of this new solution?

Glaser: SAFR SCAN is an opt-in product for companies and organizations who want to use it. And organizations can also implement SAFR SCAN as an opt-in product for their teams if they choose to. We support multi-factor authentication so an organization could easily configure SAFR SCAN to send a bar code to a user’s phone if that user didn’t want to use their face for access control.

That said, as a practical matter we think most users will prefer the speed and convenience of using SAFR SCAN’s face recognition capabilities instead of having to pull out their mobile phone or use a key card. Moreover, most people are already super comfortable unlocking their phone with their face, because they trust that the face match on their phone isn’t being shared with Big Brother.   SAFR SCAN works fundamentally the same way as that mobile phone.      

To ensure personal privacy, all SAFR SCAN’s opt-in enrolled and scanned biometric data is fully encrypted and does not contain any visual imagery of individuals’ faces. And especially important, no biometric information leaves the device, and no Personal Identifiable Information (PII) is transmitted across the network. So, for instance, if a criminal were to rip a SAFR SCAN unit out of the wall and steal it, they would get zero private or useful information.

For added physical security, SAFR SCAN features anti-spoofing technology that employs 3D structured light and RGB to best ensure the liveness of the individual being authenticated. It delivers extremely high levels of identification and authentication capabilities for new and emerging physical security, workforce management and health-safety applications at an exceptional price point.

DJ: How has the pandemic impacted the biometrics industry?

Glaser: The global pandemic has made contact-less authentication, fever screening, mask detection, and efficient contact tracing vital elements in the fight to contain a worldwide health crisis. All of those elements are also critical components in the biometrics industry.

AI, facial recognition, and biometrics can help the world get back to work. Whether it’s used for occupancy counting, proper face mask confirmation, or touchless entry control, our SAFR technology can be deployed on premises, in the cloud, or embedded in a smart camera.

DJ: Where do you expect the industry to go in the next five years?

Glaser: In five years, we think at least half of new building security systems will use facial recognition and AI. 

Traditional badge readers have fundamental and inherent security problems. SAFR SCAN demonstrates that Facial Recognition for Access Control can be fast, reliable, cost-effective, and 100 percent consistent with personal privacy.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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