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Date: 19-11-20

Contactless sensing and contactfree identification: Trends, Devices and systems

With the onset of Covid 19, keeping no physical contact and social distancing are the best options to prevent further spread of infections. The public and multiuser systems, resources, facilities and objects need to give access to its users after checking the identity of the person.   At present, the best way to check the identity of a person without  physical exchange of materials/objects or touch, is to use touch free biometrics and sensing. Business transactions and payments is one important area where touch free solution is already well in place and running smoothly. Covering small payments on roadside to shopping malls, the payments are very well happening through QR code scanning and RFID-based card payments. To ensure further security of  payments and any business  transactions, facial and voice recognition can be embedded into payment counters.

Various touchless access and identification technologies are entering mainstream and becoming important. Due to Covid, contactbased fingerprint sensor and keying of password or pins physically into a keyboard is no more a safe solution for public access systems. Infrared sensing, camera based facial/object recognition and voice recognition are gaining importance.

Let's delve into some of the contact less technologies and see how they are shaping up.

RFID-based card payments: Global payment technology companies such as VISA and MasterCard have fully operational systems supporting self checkin at payment counters. By using near Field communication (NFC) short-range wireless technology, device at the payment counter sends both communication signal and power through RF.  RFID chip integrated credit-card/ debit-card convert that beamed RF energy into power and activates the RF transceiver chip and the processor chip to send stored authorisation data  to the device at the payment counter. The encrypted communication is secure and unique by the code. This technology is thriving across the world. However  security experts are warning about privacy and other security issues.  
 
Although security can be continuously enhanced for payment like systems, RFID can be used in lot more systems to access the data remotely without a touch.

RF IDs can also be integrated into mobile phones and wearable devices, and enable them as replacement for your credit card and debit cards. That is already happening in selected markets and geographies.VISA supports payments through mobile phone, smart watch, fitness Tracker, and other device.

RFID enabled identity cards is very widely used to enter offices and secure places. The problem with this RFID ID cards, any person carrying this card can gain access. Again that's where face recognition and voice recognition or any such biometric ID verification comes in.


Infrared temperature sensing based motion and human presence sensors: The presence of human body can be remotely sensed using a device with infrared receiver. With the combination of face recognition and infrared sensors, presence of humans can be confirmed and identified.  Infrared sensors also enable to determine if the person is having fever by checking the body temperature remotely using these IR sensors. There are plenty of IR sensors available in the market both from high-end manufacturers to low-cost sensor suppliers. These IR sensors alone may fail to differentiate between objects and human body if the temperature is same. That's where other combination of biometric sensors are required to identify more accurately.

Analog semiconductor suppliers such as Maxim, Melexis  and an Panasonic along with sensor manufacturers such as Omron, Honeywell, Amphenol, Omnivision are some of the suppliers in this market.  Some of prducts to suggest include  MAX44006 from Maxim, ZTP-135SR from Amphenol, SS series from Kemet, T-90 Series from Dexter, AK9750 human detection IR sensor module from AKM and D6T from Omron. ST Microelectronics supplies range of Time of Flight proximity and ranging sensors which are slightly different from other IR sensors.

To be continued..  With more on face and voice recognition solutions in the next article.

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