INTERVIEW: Yaron Zussman, CEO, FST Biometrics America

INTERVIEW: Yaron Zussman, CEO, FST Biometrics AmericaFindBiometrics president Peter O’Neill recently had the chance to speak with Yaron Zussman, CEO of FST Biometrics America. The conversation begins with an overview of the Israel-based company and a discussion of the advantages offered by its biometric technology. FST’s flagship solution, In-Motion Identification (IMID), is a seamless multimodal identity management platform that combines face, voice, and behavioral biometrics (such as body motion) in order to achieve frictionless authentication. The conversation goes on to detail specific deployments of FST’s technology and looks ahead to potential applications of the company’s solutions in retail and customer experience applications.

Peter O’Neill, President, FindBiometrics (FB): Can you please provide our readers with a brief background of the company?

Yaron Zussman, CEO, FST Biometrics America (FST): FST Biometrics is an Israel-based biometrics company founded in 2007 by former head of the Israeli Military Intelligence Directorate, Major General Aharon Ze’evi Farkash. Specializing in biometric identity management for secure access solutions, FST Biometrics’ goal is to provide security that does not interfere with the pace of everyday living and business activity, “Secure Access at the Speed of Life.”  

Through his work in military intelligence General Farkash realized that secure access could be much more convenient for everyone involved by focusing on identifying and allowing access to the “good guys” rather than putting all resources into identifying the “bad guys” in a crowd. The technology that took shape involved the development of a fusion of biometrics including facial recognition and body behavior analytics.

FST’s technology uses algorithms that allow machines to recognize people in a very human-like manner. The camera recognizes users at a distance, first by their body behavior and as the user comes closer, our algorithms complete the recognition process by identifying unique facial features. All of this happens while the user is walking – much in the way that you might recognize a friend approaching you from a distance.

FB: What do you believe sets your solution apart from others on the market?

FST: FST’s technology is the only solution on the market today that provides non-invasive in-motion-identification of multiple people simultaneously.

It’s non-invasive because we rely on overt features to identity users, using the same biometric characteristics a person’s family and friends use to identity them. Overt features include, but are not limited to, facial recognition and body behavior analysis.   

In motion means that users, even when they approach an access point in a group, do not have to stop and be “checked.” Our system identifies users as they approach the access point, with no need to stop or to slow down.  

Ultimately, we aim to provide our customers with secure convenience.

FB: Can you give an example of a customer that is using your solution and how they are benefiting from this?

FST: A good example is the Granite Club, Canada’s 10,000-member premier family, recreation and athletic club.  The club wanted a solution which would ensure that only Granite Club members, staff and authorized visitors would be able access it’s athletic and children’s center, as well as the dining and meeting facilities.  With a health and hygiene focus, the Granite Club also wanted a touch-free solution that would not require users to swipe a card, carry a fob, punch in a code or require contact with a plate (i.e. a fingerprint scanner).

The Granite Club selected FST Biometrics because it is a non-invasive identity management solution that does not impede the movements of members and staff, or detract from the Granite Club’s friendly atmosphere.

IMID Access is used in various access points throughout the Granite Club, allowing members and staff to freely move about restricted areas of the facility, according to individual authorizations.  It is important to note that IMID was also deployed in the children’s center, supplying a highly secure space for members’ children, and allowing parents to have peace-of-mind, knowing their children are in a safe environment.

FB: What industries are you focusing on and what specific problems do you help them solve?

FST: We provide solutions for a variety of industries, but we’ve recently seen a lot of growth in the banking and corporate sectors. The challenges for corporations, and particularly for financial institutions, are unique in that these organizations have dozens of access points in a given location, sometimes in multiple buildings, and there is no room for error when it comes to security. At the same time, the people in these organizations, those who use these secured access points every day, operate in a fast-paced environment and organizations cannot afford to put invasive blockers in their way.

These industries have thousands of employees on very tight schedules using our systems, especially during the morning rush hour and lunch breaks. FST’s solutions are able to provide them with the best of both worlds. They provide the ease-of-access these industries need, and at the same time, ensure only authorized users who are registered in the system are granted access, providing security 24/7 with no bottlenecks at entry and exit points.

FB: Has this been a good year for the company?

INTERVIEW: Yaron Zussman, CEO, FST Biometrics America

King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands uses FST’s technology at the ICER Innovation Center.

FST: 2015 has been an excellent year for the company! We not only saw continued growth as a company, but our products have been significantly improved as well. In fact, we recently released a product update that grants users more control over the identification experience. This includes a self-enrollment capability, as well as a user feedback function, in which the user can view his or her approach to the access point on a wall-mounted tablet. The new release also provides greater ease-of-use for the administrator, and enhanced security features.

User confidence in our products has only grown, which you can see through the $15 million investment we received from GMF Capital earlier this year, and through recent deployment announcements with the likes of the Israel Diamond Exchange and the ICER Innovation Center located in the Netherlands—even the Dutch King and Queen have used our system!

FB: What can we expect to see next from FST?

FST: Up until this point, we have mainly focused on and marketed our identity management solution as a complement to secure access applications. We have seen some recent success with applications outside of secure access uses and plan to expand our offerings to cater to this need.

One example is our recent deployment with the ICER Innovation Center, which allows museum visitors to enroll in the system and receive personalized tours. Users interact with the exhibits and are given information as they pass through biometric checkpoints throughout the course of their tour. But this is just the tip of the iceberg of the new ways FST’s technology can be applied.

We also see potential for our system to be used in highly transactional retail spaces like coffee shops. If a customer is a “regular” and enrolled in the system, the barista can begin on the customer’s “usual order” right when they walk in the door.  

In airports, biometric identification can enhance the frequent flier experience. Frequent fliers would be able to check in through a facial scan—the system would know you, be able to check you in, suggest a meal according to your preferences, and offer upgrades. Lounge access could also be a more seamless experience, as frequent fliers would not need to present a card or boarding pass to gain access.

Of course, in all these instances, one of the advantages is eliminating physical loyalty cards, which can clutter a user’s wallet, become a costly expense for companies, and cause frustration for customers who forget their cards at home and can’t take advantage of the programs in which they are enrolled.