INTERVIEW: Arie Melamed, CMO, FST Biometrics

INTERVIEW: Arie Melamed, CMO, FST BiometricsFindBiometrics President Peter O’Neill recently had the opportunity to speak with Arie Melamed, CMO of FST Biometrics, ahead of next week’s ASIS conference—held September 12-14 in Orlando, Florida. The conversation with Melamed begins with an examination of the recent growth experienced by FST and an overview of its flagship biometric system, IMID (In Motion Identification). IMID is multimodal, convenient, and has been deployed in various settings, including an upscale fitness club, a Dutch innovation museum, and the Israel Diamond Exchange. After touching on the benefits of multimodality, the recent appointment of FST’s new chairman, and the importance of convenience in access control deployments, the interview concludes with a preview of what to expect from the company at ASIS next week.

Peter O’Neill, President, FindBiometrics (FB): This has been quite a year for FST. We recently reported that you have increased your customer base by 30 percent with about 1.5 million identifications per month on your platform. Please tell us about this growth.

Arie Melamed, CMO, FST Biometrics: I think everyone would agree that today, biometrics have become more and more a part of our lives. When I say a part of our lives, I mean that end users are accessing biometrics because they believe it helps them and they are less suspicious. Additionally, enterprises are now looking at biometrics as a solution to increase their security and to make sure that they are achieving their security goals in the right way.

For us at FST, it was a significant year. We have been receiving more and more market interest for In Motion Identification (IMID). People want an accurate system that provides security. But this year, the market also started to understand that there is a difference between systems that change a person’s normal behavior or pace of life, and systems that don’t. We have seen in the last year some new systems entering the market that are starting to adopt in motion identification technologies. This is a technology that we have been preaching and developing for years.

This year we have seen more companies marketing this idea, and users that have adopted it. From our perspective, this is a win-win situation because the speed is there, the acceptance is there and the market is ready to absorb it. Our marketing efforts are now focused on communicating the message of convenient security that does not change your pace of life.

In terms of our growth, we have had new companies join us as partners, and new customers adopt our system. And as you published, we have crossed 1.5 million identifications per month, which is a substantial number. We have a lot of users, we have many companies that are adopting this technology and many enterprises that are using it. It is the start of a rapid growth phase that we are anticipating in the coming years. IMID is now becoming mainstream.

FB: Well I couldn’t agree more, Arie. We see it actively at our company, especially in the FinTech, financial, healthcare, enterprise – all of these industries are really moving towards biometrics. You mentioned your IMID technology, In Motion Identification. For our readers not familiar with what that entails, can you just review the advantages of this?

FST: Our technology is capable of identifying people that choose to be identified. We are not looking for criminals, or people on a black list, we are looking for people that want to be identified, and that want to use the technology for their benefit. For these groups, they are identified without having to change their behavior or do anything special. A user is identified by his body, which includes his face, his body, his behavior, gait, height – every characteristic of your body that is visible to a camera and to other people who come in contact with you. This way we get the trust of the users that do not feel that the system is invasive.

This means that no user will expose anything that is not exposed naturally. For example, we don’t look at your iris because human beings don’t normally examine an iris as a natural way of identifying someone. In Motion Identification identifies someone by looking at the parts of the body that are exposed naturally and then mimics the human brain in how it identifies people. By replicating the identification process of the human brain, the benefits are quite obvious. The user does not have to stop, nor do they have to do anything specific; they don’t have to move, they don’t have to keep their hands somewhere or put them anywhere, it is just very natural. Walk, and the system will identify you.

FB: You mentioned a couple of very important topics: convenience, which is very critical right now for biometrics, but also the multimodal aspect. Multimodal biometrics has been receiving a lot of press this past year. You combine face, voice and gait; why is this the way to go?

FST: The fusion of technologies means that our system is extremely accurate. We can see the results working in real time. Any single biometric is exposed to a) questions of accuracy and b) the ability for fraud to try to trick the system. Only by combining your voice, face, height, body behavior etc. can you have such high accuracy. The accuracy achieved by the fusion of these modalities is high enough for access control to any secure facility, and it comes together with convenience. So you don’t have to compromise on either security or convenience. That is the power of fusion.

FB: You also appointed a new chairman, Avi Naor, with the aim of taking the company to the next level. What will that involve?

FST: Avi Naor built Amdocs. Amdocs is a huge IT company established in Israel, and he, with his partners, grew Amdocs from nothing, to a company worth billions of dollars. Avi not only has experience, but a great understanding of what our company is and its potential. When Avi saw our technology, he felt he found something that could be a game changer; he saw something that could influence the world. He has done this many times and he could have picked any company, but he chose us because he believes that this company has the ability to be the game changer in not only the biometrics market, but in the identification market. He believes this will become the standard of identification in the next two years, and it will be implemented in a variety of scenarios, use cases, markets, verticals and so on.

His goal is to take the company from the current stage of very rapid growth and establish it to become the game changer of the identification market in the near future. This is what he found very attractive about our company.

FB: Well it has been quite a year for your company and it is nice that you have a chairman with that kind of experience and track record working with you. I understand the FST will be at the ASIS conference in Orlando Sept. 12-14, is that correct? Is that where people can next come and see your technology?

FST: Sure. We will be at ASIS from Sept. 12-14, so people can come and see us there at booth 3267. Last year, we set an objective to increase the number of access control integrations. We have launched a new integration with Lenel. About a half year ago we launched the integration with Genetec and now we integrate with AMAG. We will be at AMAG’s booth as well as our own booth at ASIS this year, and together with AMAG, we will be showing a comprehensive solution for enterprises. FST’s technology performs the identification using a camera that is installed on Gunnebo turnstiles, while our IMID software is integrated with the AMAG Symmetry access control system to complete the picture.

We will show all of our technology and new products that we have launched recently at our booth and we welcome all visitors.

FB:  Thank you for telling us about the very positive success that FST has experienced this year.

FST: You are most welcome Peter.