Dr. Christian Hackl is the CEO of TUM-Tech GmbH and the Assistant Professor at the Technical University of Munich. In an interaction with Zwipe, Dr. Hackl discusses the application of biometrics in the realm of access control and ID solutions.
You are associated with the Technical University of Munich. Can you explain how does an Industry-Academia collaboration work?
At the Technical University of Munich, I work on Open Innovation and Lead Users. Under this program, we run joint industry-academia projects where students identify the so called “lead users”. These lead users are even ahead of early adopters in the innovation timeline for an innovative technology developed by a partner company. Together with such lead users, we develop new use cases for innovative technologies. This is a fundamentally new approach, and we have been able to come up with highly innovative use cases. Thus, it provides a huge benefit for our industry partners.
What are your areas of expertise?
We are dealing with a varied range of subjects shaping the digital landscape. Some examples here are Blockchain, Digital Identity, Digital Transformation, IoT and Artificial Intelligence. However, new manufacturing processes that enable the integration of a complete system solution in the smallest of spaces and the possibility to obtain the necessary energy via energy harvesting is a breakthrough. This is especially true when such innovations can be manufactured in large numbers with the highest precision and longevity, which are important pre-requisites for access control solutions.
How do you see the evolution of biometrics in the past few years?
According to an EU Commission study a while ago, biometric technologies have been referred to a “key enabler for future digitalservices”. I believe that the developments in the field of biometrics, the resulting usability for security-relevant applications and the acceptance they enable among end users certainly represent a major technology breakthrough in recent years.
Biometrics enable highly secure mass applications for use cases, such as electronic passports, ID-card applications or mobile applications. Interestingly, access control solutions can hugely benefit from these developments as well as user acceptance, which was enabled by such processes. Such developments were unimaginable a few years back. Biometrics ensure a great user experience and trust by enabling advanced safety and security.
Within Access Control and ID solutions, how do you see the role of biometrics?
Biometric access control solution is highly interesting, and I am sure we would be able to develop many use cases here. Zwipe's biometric platform can be used in several innovative and highly secure applications for identifying people and checking authorizations via biometrics. Possible applications could be in biometric access control for several areas, including both logical and physical credentials significantly uplifted by biometrics.
“Biometrics enable highly secure mass applications” “Biometrics offer PIN-less access that making user experience convenient and PIN-free” “Biometric access control solutions offer an ideal platform for applications to meet customers’ demands on data privacy”
With the industry underdoing a transformation post Covid-19, do you witness any notable trends in the adoption rate of new technologies?
The pandemic has certainly increased the awareness and need for safety & security. At the same time, it has increased the demand for hygienic identification solutions with the help of biometrics. Companies, for example, had and will continue to deal with increased requirements for providing safe and secure working environments, including when working from home. This includes ensuring secure IT infrastructures that are protected against unauthorized access. GDPR requirements is vital to be considered here.
On the other hand, massive user acceptance can only be created if hygienic methods are made available that guarantee everybody’s safety. Solutions that require physical contact by hundreds of employees every day are, therefore, less suitable, or at least cause enormous service effort. This increases the need for innovative technical approaches that precisely meet these requirements.
How can ID and access control solutions benefit various industries, especially the education sector?
Universities, just like organizations, face many challenges with identification solutions. It has long been a well-known fact (may be not so well communicated) that university or more general education states that certificates in some countries experience a high rate of counterfeiting, making it difficult for prospective employers to trust certificates.
But the challenge starts even before the certificates are awarded: Is the person taking the exam really the person he/she pretends to be? This question might be easy to answer in a viva exam. But this is a challenge when it comes to written examinations in large courses.
With the remote work set-up, such questions are challenging to resolve when students are writing their exams from home for the lockdown. Such challenges can be addressed with the help of awareness and availability of easy-to-use identification solutions that is ideally integrated into existing offers, such as university cards.
What are the major challenges in the future development of access control solutions? How can such challenges be addressed?
Since no central database storage of a person’s biometric data is required (as these are stored securely on the card itself), biometric card-based access control solutions offer an ideal platform for applications that meet customers’ demands on data privacy. Biometrics enables advanced safety and security features as the data never leaves the card and, hence, no central databases are required.
Today, several organizations are facing an urgent need for action as the technology used is either outdated or cannot meet the required GDPR standards. This includes complexity of the high proportion of remote work, need for ease of use, and at the same time provide secure logical access control solutions. Here, the challenges are about offering a solution meeting high-security requirements, being economical in a shorter timeframe, and offering convenience to end users.