INTERVIEW: Gary Drutin, CEO, FST Biometrics

INTERVIEW: Gary Drutin, CEO, FST BiometricsFindBiometrics President Peter O’Neill recently spoke with Gary Drutin, CEO, FST Biometrics. FST’s contactless biometric technology, which leverages a combination of face and behavioral recognition, has been deployed all over the globe in a variety of verticals, most recently securing access at the HydroLife center health club in Israel. The following interview begins with talk of FST Biometrics’ award winning year at the most recent ISC West conference, and then moves to discuss market drivers in the physical access control space, vertical markets in which FST is seeing the most demand, and the increasingly prominent industry trend of information and physical security converging. Drutin and O’Neill conclude with a sneak peek at what’s next for FST Biometrics in the next 12-18 months.

Read the full interview with Gary Drutin, CEO, FST Biometrics:


INTERVIEW: Gary Drutin, CEO, FST Biometrics

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Peter O’Neill, President, FindBiometrics: Let’s start off with the big news coming from ISC West, FST won the Best User Authentication, Identification, Credentialing and Management prize. Please tell us about this recognition.

Gary Drutin, CEO, FST Biometrics: It was a great honor to be recognized by SIA at ISC West. We worked hard to make sure that our new product was ready to present as a candidate for this award at the show. With our new IMID technology, we have overcome the key industry roadblocks to the wide adoption, and now, we can bring visual identification to the mass market. To clarify, by mass market I mean the big enterprises, similar to the customer base we are servicing today. Today, our technology operates without any limitation of low light; we’ve overcome the biometric aging challenge through continuous enrollment (done automatically); and our solution can tolerate considerably more natural behavior by users.

In front of the evaluation committee, we demonstrated many of the new features, including a person interacting with his mobile phone while being identified by the system, as well as the technology’s ability to identify users in low lighting environments, under 50 lux.

These improvements address, directly the needs of our customers, and have shifted our product from being a technology for early adopters, to being ready for mass deployments. We are very honored, excited, and proud of this achievement.

FB: Congratulations on your award. You are right, I had an opportunity to test your system in very, very low light and it worked flawlessly. It was quite impressive.

You have recently joined FST as the CEO about six months ago, what was it that attracted you to FST?

FST: I have been with FST for almost nine months. When I looked at the opportunities that were in front of me, FST stood out because of the innovation that I saw in the product. It was clear to me that the mega trends that we are seeing globally: the rise of terrorism, movement of large populations, urbanization, and the importance of border control, all give rise to the concerns of security and safety. Additionally, our increasingly digital lifestyle has shifted the identity security landscape; identity theft issues have become a major problem.

It was clear to me that FST was addressing these issues with the products and applications that it was delivering to the market. The company is growing quickly, and developing new solutions for additional market segments as well. With all of this, I saw a match between the global mega trends I mentioned and the products, solutions and technology development taking place at FST. I was intrigued by the significant opportunity in front of me, and am invigorated to plan and execute such broad vision with FST. I believe we have the game-changing technology.

FB: You mentioned some of the drivers that are occurring in the access control area, which has grown quite dramatically over the past five years with biometrics in particular taking a much larger role. Can we discuss a little bit further about what you consider to be the major drivers of this industry growth? What are the key ones right now?

FST: There are obviously some drivers, which are global drivers as I mentioned before, such as rising terrorism, populations moving from one country to another, increased urbanization, increased transit and tourism. Of course, we want to enable these things without compromising security and safety. This is what makes FST’s solution unique. Our system is adaptive, non-invasive and identifies users “in motion,” meaning, we don’t ask users to change the way they walk, move or behave in front of a door, or any access point; identification happens while users are on the go, without compromising any security quality or accuracy. I believe that the market is eager for security and safety solutions like these that will not interfere with the pace of life.

The use of biometrics is also increasing because people know that it is much harder to commit fraud against these types of systems. Still, we are seeing an increase in presentation attacks (i.e. fraud attempts), like those in the cyber security field. FST is also addressing those issues. Our anti-fraud solution is part of our identification technology, and it is a capability that customers expect from their visual identification vendors.

Another important driver, which I referred to earlier, is the risks to our digital lives. Most of us, especially in the western hemisphere, are sourcing things, buying things online, and we have a very active digital identity. The consequences of identity theft can be costly, and we should spare no effort to minimize these risks. As such, we see a growing trend of customers trying to marry the two worlds of cyber security and biometric security to create a greater resiliency to identity theft. So, I see that there is a rise not only in physical access control and identification but also in logical access control.

FB: In which vertical markets are you seeing the greatest growth right now?

FST: We are focused on identity solutions for the enterprise market. We are seeing adoption of biometric solutions coming from numerous verticals:  land transportation, entertainment, theme parks, stadiums, hospitality and banking. In these industries, adoption is driven by the need for increased personalization, improved customer experience, operational efficiency and other factors.

We also see an increase in the government vertical, with border control at airports, and adoption of biometric national ID registries, again, driven by some of the macro trends I mentioned earlier. We are working with selected customers to implement new applications in almost all those verticals. The use of biometrics is increasing because of the many benefits it delivers. The variety of use cases and domains that are suitable for biometrics grows every day. Some of these I can’t discuss yet, as they are under NDA, but it is a very exciting time for this technology.

FB: Well you know Gary, I think that is in part due to the drivers you spoke about earlier. All organizations, all enterprises, all industries really are feeling this desire to improve security and convenience. That is one of the things I find your product does really well. What can we expect to see from FST in the near future?

FST: Let’s talk about the next 12-18 months. I think we are constantly working on taking our products to next level in terms of scaling up their performance. One of the most unique features of our solution is the biometric fusion of facial recognition and behavioral biometrics, which our technology employs. In essence, we are mimicking a human brain. So, we are constantly working on improving and personalizing our technology fusion to achieve higher levels of accuracy using multiple modalities. You will see vertical-tailored solutions from us, and an easier way of deploying and using our products. We are constantly working on packaging for easier deployment and usage to accelerate market adoption. And, we are focusing on lowering the total cost of ownership to make it an affordable solution for the many applications and verticals.

FB: Thank you very much, Gary, for taking the time to speak with us today and congratulations again on your recognition at the ISC West show; that is quite outstanding. It has been a pleasure to speak with you today.

FST: Thank you very much Peter, it has been a pleasure on my side as well.