A key area of biometrics making great strides is fingerprint technology, and leading the way is Touchless Biometrics Systems (TBS).
TBS started life in Switzerland, but now has an impressive, and growing, global reach. Not content with leading the way in traditional 2D fingerprint technology, the innovative company is now changing the market with 3D scanners. We spoke to Alex Zarrabi, Business Development Director, Middle East, to find out why TBS decided to branch into 3D solutions.
“Some years ago the US Government commissioned research to overcome the limitations with existing fingerprint solutions,” Zarrabi said, “TBS was awarded with a grant of USD $3.5 million to explore new ways.” Originally the 3D and touchless fingerprint technology was developed for civil/criminal purposes but later on TBS transferred it into the access control and T&A market. “That’s how it initially started.”
Zarrabi explained that some inconveniences with 2D readers are resolved with TBS’s 3D scanners, including improved accuracy, improved hygiene and less reliance on operator abilities in the case of crime-prevention applications.
He said, “Accuracy is one of the key features of our 3D scanners, it works with almost everyone. This is not the case for the standard technologies, which regularly face exceptions. Since the 3D can normally identify everyone, you can reduce deception, and avoid a big headache for IT and security departments. You can also easily scale the solution to be used by a far larger amount of people. Another major benefit of a 3D system is the psychological impact. There are people who do not like to handle things that are touched by a lot of different people. With a 3D system you do not have to touch anything. This obviously has positive applications in healthcare systems and is definitely relevant in the face of SARS or the current Ebola crisis spreading from Africa.”
The 3D, touchless systems from TBS have been very well received by the security and access control market, not to mention by a range of organisations utilising the readers for business optimisation reasons such as time keeping. Not only local companies in various countries, but also big international names such as Siemens, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Kaba or Allegion, have integrated the easy to implement solution. The readers capture nail-to-nail images, provide identification for large databases and are highly secure.
Speaking about the business optimisation features, Zarrabi said, “In some regions, like the Middle East, using tools like fingerprint scanning for time keeping can be unpopular with workers. As 2D readers are not as accurate 100 per cent of the time, it can sometimes occur that the reader will to recognise a print, and people can take advantage of this fact to avoid using the system.
“There is also the chance that a 2D system will not be able to record some prints at all. These individuals are then often provided alternate means for access and time management, like RFID cards or PIN numbers. These can be passed around to friends and colleagues, or get lost, and this can create a risk to security. 3D works normally with everyone. So far, I know of only one recorded case of a failure to recognise a finger print with our 3D scanners in the Middle East, and one in Japan. There are surely more instances, but clearly the accuracy of 3D is a different league.”
A recent report by the Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen, Digital Citizen Security Unit, in 2013 for the European Commission concluded that 3D fingerprint scanners were the way forward, especially when it comes to fingerprinting children. Zarrabi explained that due to the many challenges in obtaining accurate readings from children, if solution works with them, it would work with adults.
There are a large number of companies and organisations already benefiting from TBS’s 3D readers, including various ministries and universities and financial institutions in the region. An American MBA university, which has facilities in London, Dubai and Singapore, is a good example. One of the largest regional airlines in Saudi Arabia is currently implementing 600 of the readers across its facilities. The 3D technology is more costly than 2D alternatives, and Zarrabi argues that the fact one company has purchased 600 3D readers proves the relevance of the technology.
TBS is a relatively young company, R&D started in 2006 and market entrance was in 2010, but it is already very well known and established in central Europe – however it is not content with this.
“We’re overjoyed with the level of success we’ve experienced and how fast we’ve expanded,” said Zarrabi. “This has enabled us to enter into the Middle East and explore opportunities in Asia, Africa and America.”