Current, emerging developments in facial recognition tech are opening up exciting possibilities for identification, verification, and authentication for many businesses and industry sectors.

Many of us are already reaping the benefits of being able to smoothly access our smartphones and banking apps using facial recognition. Not only is it more convenient, but we also know our faces have unique geometries that give us the assurance of cyber protection versus the risks of username and passwords – not to mention first pets’ names, car models, and mother maiden names for 2FA – or the hassle of trying to remember specific characters in long strings of letters and numbers and inevitably writing them down in insecure lists.

Similar approaches to using facial recognition are now available for organisations, allowing them to provide secure and frictionless access to premises, meeting rooms, car parks, hot desks, IT applications, and sensitive documents – and with similar benefits: greater personal convenience and improved cybersecurity.

Not only are these new solutions easy and affordable to implement, because they leverage low-cost edge devices or existing equipment such as company laptops and phones, but the come with impressive performance now processing has also become super speedy.

Any privacy concerns that employees, contractors, and visitors have can easily be alleviated by giving individuals timed options so they can choose for how long their biometric data is used and stored. Businesses can also opt for technology that creates synthetic face overlays to protect individuals from any risk of being recognised, and to meet compliance with regulations including GDPR.

This means we can now give our customers reliable and practical alternatives to both physical and logical access based on proximity cards, tokens, and other credentials, as well as complicated MFA for IT applications.

We’re already seeing this as a game-changer because not only is this form of biometric authentication more secure; it drives significant savings: removing the cost of producing and administering ID badges or supplying every employee with a token, and saving the time it takes to maintain systems, for staff to intervene to replace lost or forgotten access credentials or re-setting application passwords.

In sectors from healthcare and logistics to e-commerce and hospitality, we’ve already seen how upgrading ID verification from proximity cards to smartphones delivers efficiency savings by using QR codes or mutual authentication with edge devices such as door readers to enable more frictionless and contactless access to premises, workspaces, meeting rooms, and hot desks.

Next gen facial recognition tech now gives us more authentication and verification options and adds another layer of security and safety.  Integrated with wider systems – including security, building management, operational and human resources applications and particularly databases such as Microsoft Active Directory – this has huge potential to eliminate siloed systems and technology stacks.

This integration also gives facilities managers the ability to monitor occupancy to ensure buildings and workspaces are optimized day to day – with more sustainable approaches to heating, lighting, and services – while, longer-term, the statistical data that becomes available will help tailor building use more closely to the needs of staff and visitors. Inevitably, that will deliver new efficiencies.

And with hybrid working here to stay, these new solutions also allow IT departments to better support BYOD policies.

Reductions in the number of permanent staff using office spaces – and more flexible working patterns also bring some increased security risks that need to be managed. For example, the less predictable ways of working may make it harder for employees and security staff to spot intruders.  But the latest facial recognition tech plugs the gap, helping to keep unauthorised individuals out of secure areas. Facial recognition, with the ability to quickly verify unrecognised individuals using edge devices on the move, can cut infiltration risks – for example, ensuring staff-only access to private workspace areas and server rooms, and preventing tailgating.

At a time of increased employee bargaining power, we should not underestimate the value of giving staff the improved daily conveniences that comes with frictionless, yet flexible access to working spaces. Not only can this help to improve staff engagement, it lets employers meet their duty of care obligations and promote a culture of safety and wellbeing.

And it has potential to deliver many benefits beyond commerical office spaces.

For example, automated access control is being proven in use at construction sites, enabling touchless time and attendance, reducing operational costs and human error, and improving health & safety by integrating data such as worker qualifications, insurance enrolments and onsite working history records.

This increases operational flexibility, allowing mobile workforces to move easily between different sites, using the same seamless and frictionless authentication system wherever they go.  The same is true in sectors including healthcare and logistics and warehousing operations.

Industry bodies and government departments are all now recognising how much facial recognition can help to reduce operational costs and advance the digital transformation of sectors under increasing pressure from supply chain disruption, high staff turnover and shortages

These emerging integrated solutions are also strengthening and extending the connections between remotely based teams and the corporate centre.

Adding AI-powered facial recognition to these integrated solutions, the result is not just improved security at physical premises – with facial recognition providing smoother authentication – but more effective home working with improved network security too.

For example, with facial recognition remote monitoring can ensure that only authorised employees are able to log-in to specified applications or to view sensitive systems and data on work laptops. If that authorised individual moves away from their laptop – or if somebody who’s not authorised tries to use the system, or even look over the user’s shoulder – access can immediately time-out.

The same AI technology will detect attempts to deceive the system using a photograph or digital image – thanks to robust liveness detection capability – ensuring a high degree of authentication accuracy.

These tools can be tailored to the security level required by the user – in the case of a bank or government department, for example, the access restrictions can be more rigorous, with a smaller business where employees need to be agile it can be more flexible.

For the many of the sectors we are now working in, facial recognition is set to deliver major new benefits, including managing hybrid working with increasingly mobile workforces, and pivoting operations to be more efficient and flexible.