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Biometric and Thermal Devices Compared

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many commercial buildings have undergone transformations that reduce touchpoints in high-traffic areas. These Businesses are beginning to prioritise no-touch access control. They are using biometric and thermal products to add a layer of protection by measuring the physical attributes of a person such as their face, while minimising the risk of spreading bacteria and germs.

Biometric and thermal products are rapidly gaining popularity and becoming the standard access control solution. As an installer, it is essential that you understand the key differences between them, the products to offer and where they should be used.

What's the difference between biometric and thermal?

Biometric technology recognises a person's unique physical features such as their fingerprint, face, or Iris pattern (Think of Face ID on the modern smartphone)

Devices that use biometric technology provide a stronger authentication method than using traditional keys, pins or access cards for access control. Iris recognition products are designed to correctly confirm a person’s identity even when they are wearing eyeglasses, sunglasses, contact lenses or a face mask.

However, thermal imaging or detection technology can measure a person’s temperature. This technology has become more common and integrated in access control systems for health and safety, as they can send alerts when they detect elevated temperatures.

While no thermal solution can detect illness, it can act as a risk management tool when used properly to increase safety.

Types of biometric devices

Facial recognition readers

The versatility of face scanning technology means they can often be found in different devices and applications such as terminals or readers.

Readers verify a person's unique physical attributes such as their face or eyes to positively identify someone before granting access.

These are completely touchless, so they can provide a no contact option for access control. They are usually placed at entrances and checkpoints. Most readers can often work with existing building systems and infrastructure.

Fingerprint readers

Fingerprint readers offer a cost-efficient solution for biometric identification. They measure fingerprint characteristics with identity technology that uses optical, ultrasound sensor or capacitive technology to match and verify a person's identity to one in the system's database.

They can be used to restrict or grant access to classified information and physical locations within any organisation. As no password or data entry is required to use fingerprint systems, they are very difficult to hack and often a great option for businesses that are looking to increase their security. However, as the user must place their finger on the device, they can not be classed as a touchless system.

Thermal cameras

IP thermal cameras are a video surveillance solution capable of quickly identifying heightened body temperatures to detect potential health and safety risks. Organisations can also incorporate thermal cameras into their access control systems to ensure temperature checks at doors. This offers a safety measure that prevents a user from entering should their temperature be deemed a risk.

With combined visual and networking technologies, thermal cameras have the power to detect a high body temperature through a contact-free method.

Body temperature detection systems

Body temperature detection systems use non-invasive and contactless thermal cameras placed in main doorways, along with temperature calibration devices to measure and record body temperature. Together, this system can accurately and quickly monitor a person's body temperatures from a distance and deliver precise, instant information to maintain customer and employee safety. When an elevated body temperature is detected, these systems can be programmed to alert the user.

Devices that use both biometric and thermal technology

There are products on the market that combine both biometric and thermal technologies to serve as a standalone access control solution. When a person steps in front of a kiosk, station or terminal, these devices successfully identify and check a person’s temperature while detecting the person’s identity through face scanning or iris detection.

This reduces contact points and eliminates the need for additional devices. These terminals can include customisable tablets or digital screens that are easy to configure and use.

No-contact Solutions

No-contact solutions to access control are a great benefit to healthcare facilities, airports, financial institutions, schools and universities. Incorporating these technologies in their access control systems is essential for greater health and safety at these critical facilities.

At some airports, for example, passengers can move from terminal to cabin without having to show travel documents; biometric readers are able to detect and match facial characteristics to a passenger’s passport. Meanwhile, healthcare facilities and colleges and universities are relying more on automated temperature screening technology that leverages facial recognition biometrics to allow access only when people pass a daily temperature check.

In a changing world, commercial buildings, offices and other facilities are turning to these devices to keep their employees and customers safe.

Identify the client's needs

Consider what kind of client it is, their biggest security concerns and whether they are looking for more features than what traditional access control can offer when installing or upgrading a system. These technologies are not ideal or necessary for every customer.

If your client is simply looking for improved security, biometric devices might be a better option. For healthcare, education or transportation facilities, a device that includes thermal detection would not only improve security but also health and safety to enable the organisation to operate more effectively.

View our biometric, thermal and other no-touch solutions here

ADI offers a wide selection of biometric and thermal solutions from leading suppliers to integrate into a variety of commercial access control systems.
Learn about our full offering of touchless access control solutions for your next project.