A Q&A with Christian Bosence: How technology is supporting the return to work
For the full webinar, check out the video below.
With easing lock-down measures, which technologies are customers enquiring about in order to prepare for the return to work?
Christian: “Quite a variety. We’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of new enquiries, which is a great place to be in, during uncertain times.
Being a Senior Account Manager, at the forefront of a self-service technology solutions company, I’m exposed to all the weird and wonderful ideas on how to implement technology here, there and everywhere; I’m happy to have the opportunity to share these valuable insights.
Firstly, the integration of thermal imaging technology into kiosks has at the forefront of enquiries.
As we know, the two main symptoms of COVID-19 are a cough and a fever. By using a Fever Detection kiosk to screen employees, visitors and users for an elevated temperature, not only does it give the person being scanned the peace of mind that they do not have a temperature, but also reassures others that safety measures are being taken.
A couple of months ago, roughly the time when the US had been in lockdown for a few weeks, I saw a video of Universal City Walk over in Florida opening their doors again for visitors with 4 or 5 poor security guards standing in front of queues of 400 or 500 people. Their employer had tasked them to use a handheld thermal temperature gauge to stop and point this ‘gun-like’ device at each customer’s head.
Why, when we have the self-service technology available to us, do we feel the need to put employees into potentially dangerous positions?
Our first steps was to develop a partnership with a German sensor company who have designed an extremely accurate and affordable solution, which can be fitted onto any kiosk within our ranges.
Accuracy is key for temperature checks; inaccurate data and potentially unsafe people being scanned through as ‘healthy’, is dangerous, hence our incorporation of incredibly accurate technology.
The affordability is also very important – there are some make-shift solutions that have been offered by some of the big corporates out there, but £25k+ systems aren’t unusual. We’ve worked hard to bring it right down and identify that there is huge value in integrating thermal solutions into existing access control and visitor management systems by opening up the SDK to all of our customers, something which the cheaper solutions do not offer.
Another trend we’ve seen recently surrounds the actual kiosk solution hardware itself. Due to how we now know COVID-19 can spread, the rise of ‘touch-free’, ‘non-touch’, ‘frictionless’ or ‘touch-less’ solutions has boomed.
Using Visitor Management kiosks as an example here, traditionally a visitor may have approached the kiosk, been asked to type in their name, maybe their painfully long email address, scroll through an NDA and scribble a signature – all actions that require them to physically touch the tablet or touchscreen multiple times.
By shuffling around the user journey and asking a visitor to submit information prior to their arrival, you can then leverage recognised technologies that are already widely used, such as QR codes or sensors, to eradicate the need for someone to touch a screen all together.
In more advanced solutions, we’ve seen customers working with facial recognition to make the user experience even more seamless, with the added benefit of course that you can’t forget your face or run it’s battery down to zero!
Another trend is voice print recognition and gesture control, used with good effect. I had a customer in the States in the food manufacturing business who needed to ask each employee every day 3 COVID related questions. They couldn’t be pre-answered and employees were not allowed personal devices on site. They also wanted a zero-touch solution, so gestures were taken from a HD webcam and recognised left or right hand movements as yes or no answers.
Finally, kiosks need to be easily cleaned and never has this been such a focus as now. We have developed anti-microbial screen protectors that can prevent germs living or reproducing on the surface of a touchscreen. They also allow harsher chemicals to be used to clean the hardware without damaging the displays.”
Are you seeing resistance to certain technologies, such as facial recognition, with regards to user privacy?
Christian: “Yes, to a degree. But there is always resistance to change no matter where or what it is. Being in hardware, I don’t fully know the ins and outs of the legal side of privacy, but by stepping back to take more of a generic overview of the global situation as it is now, we all know aren’t going to be going back to how it was.
Looking back to the dreadful events of 9/11 and think about the “huge jump” up in security measures that followed, we take this security as standard. This pandemic will inevitably lead to similar changes in how we move around our planet.
Unfortunately, it does sometimes take a huge change in the world to allow technologies to shine through, be accepted by users and for it to show it’s worth.
Technology, such as facial recognition or voice print recognition, are not new and I personally don’t find them scary. If you are a law abiding citizen, there is nothing to worry about.
For years we’ve had biometric data recorded on our passports and installations throughout major transit hubs such as airports.
Retailers have started using emotion recognition to program their dynamic signage to show goods that they believe make you happier.
We now even use our face to unlock and pay for things – yet some people are still adverse to allowing technology to use their face to enter a building.
I know there are companies working to de-couple biometrics away from your actual identity and create you a new ‘anonymous persona’ – so that could be a way around the issues.
But generally, I’d hope that once these technologies have proved themselves to the general population, the barriers to change will drop and user acceptance would prevail to give us a better safer future.”