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face recognition biometric access control
Olga Weis Olga Weis Last updated Jan 19, 2023

Facial Recognition Access Control Systems - Full Guide

Facial recognition technology is at its peak. It’s been gaining traction not only in the mobile phone industry, security, and military but also in the health industry. It’s being used today to combat the spread of COVID-19, other viruses, and contagious diseases. It’s also mainly being adopted by home intercoms and keyless entry systems by different manufacturers around the world.

Biometrics is now used for electronic or contactless payments, tightening security at airports, public-use buildings, and almost everywhere. As a result, it’s a fast-growing industry with a whopping market size of $12.7 billion by 2028 from $5 billion in 2021.

In this article, you’ll learn about what facial recognition is, how it works, its privacy and security issues, its benefits, and more.

How Does a Face Recognition Security System Work?

Access control systems nowadays adopt facial recognition technology to improve their security and allow smoother keyless entry.

face recognition scanner

Facial recognition software in general works just like most biometric access control technologies. They save faceprints to serve as authentication keys for users. This software can not only be used in a single household but can also be utilized in any protected location: buildings, production sites, airports, penitentiaries, or other protected facilities in a residential complex setup. Multiple faceprints can be saved in the access system database to allow authorized entry.

Biometric Access Control System
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Biometric access desktop

These access control systems use Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms to convert facial values into accurate measurements and calculations of people’s facial features to serve as their own unique identity within the system. The AI software that facilitates this process uses coordinates to determine distances between your eyes, mouth, ears, nose, and different points on your face to produce a unique numerical code called a faceprint. This code is stored in the access control system’s database.

face recognition algorithm

This also means that these systems do not keep a copy of your photographs, but only the data derived from your photographs.

Face recognition access devices are made out of specialized reader hardware. They have cameras that detect an individual’s face with special sensors that allow 3D depth analysis of a person’s facial features.

A database center where sensitive biometric data will be stored and protected is also needed when installing these devices. Installing a face recognition access control system requires you to create an uncompromisable link between your reader hardware at your object’s protected entrances to your data center. This can be a complex installation task that can be solved by controlling your biometric devices with Flexihub in five steps.

What Are the 2 Main Types of Facial Recognition?

Facial recognition software is divided into 2 main types, namely 2D and 3D. This software is used increasingly today to create smart and safe spaces, may it be residential, commercial, or industrial properties.

2d facial recognition access control system

Access control systems that use 2D facial recognition technology read the geometry of your face and convert it to code. Then, it will match this code with existing codes in its database to confirm your identity.

If the photo taken of your face is deemed identical to an existing photo in the database, you will be granted access.

icon pros Pros:

  • There’s no need for special face recognition hardware with scanners and 3D capabilities. Even conventional cameras, such as phones and webcams, can be used for this type of software.

icon cons Cons:

  • This software can be used to identify anyone without their permission through all the available data on the Internet.
  • With this software, you can easily get ahold of anyone’s personal information as long as you have their photo. Uploading a good-quality image of someone’s face in this software will return matching personal information without their information, thus violating their privacy.
  • This system can be bypassed with a printed photo if anti-spoofing 3D verification is not used.

3d facial recognition access control system

This technology uses video data to create a 3D image of your face. It uses lasers and different types of face recognition scanners such as those with the capability to inspect different sources of light or illumination. Or, scanners with the ability to map out physical spaces and objects with photogrammetric technology.

This type of face recognition algorithm can process all types of information including the angle of your face while looking at the camera, your head size, and the shape of your face.

However, these systems may have a hard time identifying you if you’re not directly looking at the camera.

3d facial recognition access control system

These systems measure your face down to the sub-millimeter and turn calculations into code.

icon pros Pros:

  • 3D biometric systems are more secure. They’re harder to fool, and they work more efficiently.
  • Their accuracy allows better facial recognition compared to a traditional 2D facial recognition door access system.
  • Lighting does not affect their 3D facial recognition ability which means that they perform equally well during nighttime.
  • It can recognize faces from different angles besides a straight-on profile.

icon cons Cons:

  • In order to use sophisticated 3D facial recognition products, you will also need to have special imaging equipment. Traditional peripherals such as webcams, mobile devices, and conventional cameras are not compatible with this software. It’s a costly upgrade from using 2D facial recognition software.

The speed and accuracy at which it identifies people heavily rely on saved photos of people in the system’s database. It may also fail to recognize the minimal difference present in the physical profile of twins.

What Are the Key Benefits of Facial recognition technology?

Some of the advantages of facial recognition access control systems include the following:

1. Hands-free user authentication

Unlike other access control systems that require pin codes or access cards, facial recognition access control systems won’t require you to physically touch reader devices when entering secured premises. This is most important in adapting to safety protocols given the emergence of a new coronavirus disease.

2. High security

This is a better version of an electric security lock compared to outdated PIN and password smart locks. PINs and passwords are information that can easily be hijacked or stolen.

On the other hand, biometrics are nearly impossible to replicate or steal. Passwords and biometrics can be used in conjunction to create a more secure access system.

3. Remote management of system database

Give and remove access from anyone, even when you don’t have access to the device. You can manage authorized users through your mobile device using a control panel.

4. No remotes, RFID devices, or keyfobs required

With facial recognition technology, you won’t ever have to worry about losing any physical authenticating devices to enter secured premises.

5. It can be used with other software

Facial recognition technology can be easily integrated with other platforms or software like attendance, electronic payment, and building management software.

6. Easy to use

Facial recognition technology can be used by people of all ages. This means you don’t need to be a computer nerd to use face recognition biometric access control.

7. Economical

Finally, you can get rid of keys, cards, and all the costs associated with creating and distributing them.

Disadvantages of Facial Recognition Access Control Systems

Even the best and most advanced technology comes with disadvantages. Here are some of them:

1. Costly

Having facial recognition access control systems installed in your home or business will cost more than using traditional keycard entry systems.

2. Privacy risks

This software is controversial for a reason. They raise privacy concerns among many people. They can be beneficial when used solely for their intended purpose, which is security, but in some places, they’re used to carry out mass surveillance.

3. Hinders Personal Freedom

Most people feel unsafe being watched and recorded by face recognition devices. These recordings can also be used by Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) to run background checks on you without your knowledge.

What makes this worse is the lack of laws in most countries that cover violations of privacy with the use of new technology such as this one.

4. Identification Accuracy Issues

In a 2018 MIT study, it was found that these systems can easily identify white males more than women and people of color. The study concluded that a 34.7 percent error rate was present when attempting to match dark-skinned women.

They are said to be 99% accurate when the subject can clearly be seen by the camera, but with bad lighting, off angles, and awkward facial profiles, they can be inaccurate.

5. They don’t do well with masks, goggles, PPEs, and other facial obstructions

In some environments and scenarios, it may not be advisable or convenient to take off personal protective equipment (PPEs) just to have a camera scan your face. During these times, a password entry system can best provide both secure and hygienic access.

6. Data vulnerabilities

Access control facial recognition systems can give way to unwanted privacy intrusions. When your facial data is hacked, there’s no getting it back. Hackers can use this data as long as they wish to cause you harm. Unlike passwords, you can’t really change your facial characteristics.

In 2019, the US Customs and Border Protection Service encountered a breach in its face recognition system. 100,000 photos of people’s faces and their license plates were compromised.

7. Lack of support

Most face recognition access control products are sold as standalone facial recognition terminals and are often connected to third-party software. This makes it hard for users to troubleshoot problems or perform maintenance of systems on their own.


Facial recognition technology is relatively new. Despite being largely used in various industries today, it’s still pretty much under development and far from perfect. There are still some aspects of the development of such technology that needs to be carefully assessed, especially those concerning the public’s privacy and personal freedom.

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