Suprema has addressed some of the public health concerns that people now have about shared fingerprint sensors in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company notes that studies have shown that the coronavirus can survive on a hard surface like a fingerprint reader for anywhere from several hours to several days, making that surface a potential vector for infection.
However, Suprema argues that shared fingerprint readers carry a lower risk than other commonly used surfaces like door handles, elevator buttons, and the support poles on public transit. For one thing, people usually grip a door handle with their whole hand, and exert a moderate amount force to manipulate the handle. The large contact area and the added pressure increases the likelihood of viral transmission.
Fingerprint readers, on the other hand, have a small surface area and require only a light touch that lasts for less than a second. Fingerprint readers are also opt-in security measures, which limits the number of people who will interact with the device. That distinguishes them from guardrails and other surfaces that are handled by the public at large, and makes it easier to take preventative measures. People primarily use shared fingerprint readers when they need to gain access to a venue, so they can wash their hands or use hand sanitizer after using the device.
If those precautions are taken, it will create a safer environment because it will ensure that only authorized individuals have access to the venue, though Suprema does recommend the use of thermal detection technology as another safety measure. The company also stressed that proper sanitization practices can dramatically reduce the threat of transmission.
With that in mind, Suprema is essentially arguing that biometric authentication is a safer option than no authentication, even when using a shared fingerprint reader during a pandemic. Suprema has nevertheless acknowledged that COVID-19 has changed the authentication landscape, and released an app-based mobile access control solution that accounts for the rising interest in contactless technology.
April 29, 2020 – by Eric Weiss