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Biometric Access Control Devices Now and in the Future

Physical devices such as fobs, tokens, and badges are losing popularity as a means of implementing security and access control. Instead, security professionals are turning to frictionless alternatives. These methods don’t require individuals to display a badge or wait for a security guard to let them into a building.
Biometric Access Control Devices
Olga Weis Olga Weis Last updated Feb 2, 2023

Multiple technologies are used to implement frictionless security. The most common technology solutions are access control biometrics and radio frequency identification (RFID). They can be used alone or together to streamline access to secure areas. RFID may eventually become the most prevalent technology due to its convenience, reliability, accuracy, and strong security.

What are biometric access control devices?

The definition of a biometric access control device is a single piece of equipment that employs biometric readers or sensors to enable secure access to restricted areas without entering a password. The type of biometrics used includes facial recognition, fingerprints, heartbeats, and iris recognition. Currently, the most popular option is facial recognition due to its simplicity and cost-effectiveness.

Facial recognition can be implemented with standard, commercially available video cameras connected to an analytical software solution. As individuals enter the camera’s field of view, their faces are compared to those in a database. Facial recognition is an apt solution for low-throughput environments but is difficult to scale efficiently.

The problem is that the underlying technology is often not capable of keeping up with identifying large numbers of people in a short time. This causes problems as individuals are incorrectly identified and access is erroneously permitted or denied. It is certainly not a frictionless experience.

More complex and accurate biometric access control devices make use of 3D facial modeling. This option is more expensive and can still be plagued by faulty recognition and reliability issues. Facial recognition and modeling are two technologies that will drive biometric access into the future. Research is continuing to refine the processes which are excellent choices for authentication in areas that require high security.

The following chart highlights research that indicates that biometric and RFID access control devices are a growing market that will dominate the area of physical access control. It’s expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.5%. The market is expected to grow to five billion US dollars from 2021 to 2031.

Biometric-based Physical Access Control System Market

How Do Biometric Access Control Devices Work?

Three key components are used to construct a biometric access control device. Virtually all biometric systems operate using a sensor, a computer, and software and go through the following three stages.

Enrollment - The first time an individual uses a biometric system, personal details such as your name or ID number are collected. The system also records an image or another physical characteristic such as a fingerprint.

Storage - The recorded image and characteristics are transformed into a line of code or a graph for more efficient storage.

Comparison - Subsequent interactions with the biometric system compare an individual with their stored characteristics. The system can either confirm your identity or reject it and deny access.

Biometric Access Control System
If you want more information about remote control in biometric access systems, push the button below. FlexiHub can help to connect your biometric devices to one point and manage them remotely.
Biometric access desktop

Biometric and RFID access control devices

Biometric readers or scanning devices are used to verify a person’s identity. An example is fingerprint biometrics used in various applications in which an optical sensor creates an image based on a fingertip’s ridge structure. This image is then used to control future access activity.

The sensor in biometric and RFID access control devices is the interface between users and access control systems. It’s critical to minimize the rate of failed reads. The accuracy of the information in a biometric system is often determined by the quality and characteristics of its camera. Most biometric data is built on images, though there are also audio and chemically-based systems such as those used in voice recognition or odor identification.


Different types of biometric devices have varying advantages, characteristics, and limitations that make them more or less appropriate for various usage scenarios. The price of biometric and RFID access control devices also varies greatly, with multimodal biometric solutions being the most expensive. Care must be taken when choosing the right biometric devices for an implementation that balances their price, characteristics, benefits, and limitations.

Following is a list of commonly used and effective biometrics devices that may help you choose the best fit for your business security needs.

Biometric access control terminals are devices that consolidate biometrics readers or sensors on a single, compact piece of equipment. The terminal may include a facial recognition camera, iris scanner, and fingerprint sensor to provide secure access to individuals without the need to enter a password. Many different types of biometric access control devices are available that use various biometric characteristics. They include:

  • Fingerprint recognition terminals that employ a fingerprint scanner;
  • Facial recognition terminals that use a camera;
  • Iris recognition terminals using an iris scanner;
  • Hand geometry recognition terminals that employ a hand geometry scanner;
  • Palm vein recognition terminals that use infrared light;
  • Multi-factor authentication terminals using multiple sensors and readers for more accurate and effective access control. These terminals may use an RFID card reader, barcode scanner, or multiple biometric scanners to improve reliability and security.
Fingerprint scanners
Fingerprint scanners Fingerprint scanners are the most commonly used type of biometric device due to their simplicity and low cost. There are two basic types of fingerprint scanners:
  • Optical fingerprint scanners use optical technology to create a digital image of a fingerprint;
  • Capacitive fingerprint scanners verify a fingerprint by measuring changes in the skin’s capacity to conduct electric current.
‍Facial recognition terminals
Facial recognition terminals are widely used contactless biometric devices. They use specialized HDR or IR cameras to create facial images which are compared to a database. Identify is confirmed when a match is made between the image and the database.
Iris scanners
Iris scanners are also contactless biometric devices. They perform iris recognition using near-infrared light. An individual’s iris is unique and offers an excellent method of identifying identity. Iris scanners are fast and accurate and are used in a wide variety of usage scenarios.
Retina scanners
Retina scanners Retina scanners perform retinal scans with a beam of low-energy infrared light. They make an image of your retina while you look through an eyepiece. This image can be compared to a database to establish your identity. Retinal scanners are more expensive than other forms of biometric devices.
Hand geometry scanners
These devices work by measuring the size and shape of a person’s hands. Individuals place their hands on the device and charge-coupled device (CCD) cameras create an image of it for comparison to a database. They are used to verify identity, enable access, and track attendance among other uses.
Palm vein scanners ‍
Palm vein scanners Palm vein scanners are contactless devices that use near-infrared light to create an image of the veins in your palm to be matched with information in a database. The fact that they are very accurate and contactless has made them popular for a wide variety of security applications. FlexiHub was tested on Fujitsu PalmSecure F-Pro palmvein scanner and confirmed a stable remote work with this biometric access control device.
Hybrid biometric devices
A hybrid biometric device uses two or more biometric characteristics to identify an individual. They are also referred to as multi-biometric devices.

Biometric Access Control Devices categories

Biometric access control devices can be broadly categorized as being used for authentication or identification.

Biometric Authentication Devices
Biometric authentication entails comparing an individual’s characteristic data to their biometric template. The comparison is meant to confirm that an individual resembles their claimed identity.

The comparison in biometric authentication systems is done between the physical or behavioral characteristics of an individual with information stored in a database. When the data aligns, authentication is established. Biometric authentication is used to limit and control access to rooms, buildings, vehicles, and computers.

The essential first step in using biometric authentication systems is to collect and store the reference model used for future comparison. This information should allow confirmation that an individual is who they say they are.
Biometric Identification Devices
Biometric identification is used to determine an individual’s identity. Typically, it is used by an organization that collects a biometric from a person and compares it to information in a database to accurately identify them.

A piece of biometric data from an individual is needed such as a facial photograph, voice recording, or fingerprint. After collection, the data is matched with biometric information in the database. When working properly, biometric identification can efficiently determine an individual’s identity.

Biometric devices are located in a wide range of settings including:
  • Banks;
  • Airports;
  • Hospitals;
  • Universities;
  • Office buildings;
  • Museums;
  • Government and municipal buildings;
  • Any building implementing frictionless security measures.

The Uses of Biometric Security Devices

Biometric security devices are used to verify an individual’s identity based on biological or behavioral features. Fingerprint recognition is used most often due to its low cost. Multispectral fingerprint sensors are more accurate than optical sensors but are more expensive. Other biometrics such as facial images, irises, and palm veins can be used by scanners. Iris recognition is considered the most secure biometric indicator followed by palm recognition.

Access control identification by biometric mobile devices

Today we live in a mobile-centric world. Mobile access control systems typically employ mobile phones, though other types of tablets or wearables may also be used to authorize entry into restricted areas. Advanced access control identification systems eliminate the need for authorized individuals to directly interact with a biometric reader.

How do mobile access systems work?

Modern data readers use NFC/Bluetooth technology for connectivity. An example is the popular Signo™ reader which works in conduction with HID Mobile Access® technology. Gaining access with a mobile phone access control device involved the following steps.
  • The mobile device sends a signal to the reader requesting access.
  • Biometric data resident on the mobile device verifies the person’s identity.
  • The reader communicates with the access control database using encrypted credentials.
  • The database verifies the credentials.
  • Access is granted to the individual by the access control system.

Four benefits of mobile biometric access control

Problems like forgetting an access card or remembering PINs are no longer relevant with mobile biometric access controls. Most people have a mobile phone they can use for convenient access to restricted areas.
Access can be granted or denied by cloud applications. This is more efficient than using security personnel and lets companies scale up and down as their requirements change.
Eliminating the need to physically touch a shared access device is more hygienic and reduces the risk of spreading germs.
Incorporating a mobile access control system into a comprehensive security system allows for more fine-grained and secure control of access to restricted areas. Permission can be granted or revoked immediately through the connected cloud platform with a few clicks.

Using a mobile phone instead of fingerprint or iris scanners eliminates the need for third-party readers to have access to individuals’ biometric data. It’s contained on our phones and protected by advanced security technology.


Yes, biometrics provides a safe way of implementing access control systems. They provide a security layer that does not require individuals to share personal information.
An RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) access control system is a type of secure entry system that verifies a user’s credentials via RFID technology.

RFID technology allows a reader and RFID tag to establish wireless communication. The technology was invented in the 1970s with the first devices being large and costly. Research has developed small and inexpensive RFID tags that are employed for a wide variety of uses including library cataloging, tracking shipping containers, and access control.

RFID access control systems can be found in both residential and commercial buildings and are a popular solution for locking office doors.
A combination of biometrics and radio frequencies can be used to provide enhanced security and access control. Integrating the two technologies enables access to be autonomously denied by the building in which they are implemented. Doors can be locked automatically to prevent unidentified individuals from accessing restricted areas. No actions are required for the majority of people who are authorized for entry.

This type of combination system produces a lot of data that needs to be stored, monitored, and analyzed by the underlying architecture. The system can track who is in the building and where they are located. It provides enhanced reliability and accuracy when identifying individuals.

Unidentified persons will cause a bottleneck at an entry point, alerting everyone of the presence of an unauthorized individual. This helps minimize risks to everyone and lets people respond to risks more quickly if required. Combing biometric and radio frequency identification should be used when autonomous and effective identity verification is desired.
The cost of biometric access control systems ranges from$1,000 to $10,000. The price is determined by several factors including whether the system encompasses multiple sites, its complexity, and the number of doors it needs to control.
More than 50% of all security systems across the world make use of biometrics. Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and South Africa are the countries that use biometrics most frequently to secure buildings.
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