FACIAL recognition software has been kicking around for decades, but are we getting to the point where it can be more widely adopted by businesses?
North East Time Recorders managing director Chris Routledge said a year ago that 2011 would be the year which would “see wider adoption of this technology in business and industry”.
He says his company’s technology has come along significantly in the last few months alone, going from “a basic system to an all-singing and dancing time and attendance system”.
The Blaydon firm sourced facial recognition hardware from Taiwan and worked on enhancements with the firm before putting it on the market.
While the hardware enabled the system to recognise staff and clock them in and out, North East Time Recorders has since integrated software which can send clock-in information to the company’s payroll system, and allow staff to check and request holidays from home using a web portal on their own computer.
It’s a fair leap away from the firm’s early days, providing traditional “punch” systems in grandfather clocks to UK businesses.
Routledge said: “We’ve been looking at facial recognition for quite a few years, but the hardware wasn’t really up to scratch. We’re very happy with the hardware now, and we’ve incorporated some time and attendance software.
“Employees can walk past and it clocks them in and out, comparing their face with what’s stored on the system. It can be used for things such as controlling barriers and turnstiles, and we’ve incorporated access features so you can limit which doors people can go through.”
One major benefit of the software is that it enables companies to set up web portals, so staff can clock in and out at home, and can make holiday requests which are mailed direct to the supervisor. Routledge thinks this is a potential growth area due to the continuing rise in home working.
It also runs a weekly report which can streamline the payroll process.
Routledge said: “At the end of the week it’ll run a report showing exceptions such as people who are taking unauthorised overtime and people not clocking out. Then you can export all the information right into the Pegasus or Sage Payroll software.”
While Solartron ISA in Newton Aycliffe and Intelpack in Washington have adopted North East Time Recorders’ timekeeping technology using keyfobs, the first to adopt their facial recognition technology in the region is Blaydon ice-cream-maker Beckleberry’s.
Beckleberry’s director Ian Craig says: “Biometric facial recognition makes life easier for our employees since they do not need to do anything to clock on or off, they simply walk towards the camera.
“It represents an improvement in efficiency since it is absolutely accurate and the health and safety benefits are an added bonus. While our products are hand crafted, our administrative systems are fully automated and biometric facial recognition is another step down that road.”
Routledge admits there is still a bit of a stigma around biometric technology, especially fingerprinting, but adds that most warm to the systems once they start using them.
He said: “People tend to want to stick with what they know, and there can be a bit of a stigma there. They can be quite hesitant but once they’ve tried it they’re very impressed.
“We’re going to be doing a bit of a push in the New Year. We’re very happy with facial recognition and wish we could get a few out there to show how good they are.”