Replacing the punch card with face scanning

Employees can forget punch cards and finger scans. Now they can stand in front of a small machine, and in 2 seconds or less their face is scanned and they are punched in for work.

Biometric face-scanning time clocks have been introduced within the past year. Two of these companies -- Lathem, an Atlanta-based time and attendance system company and Compumatic Time Recorders Inc. in New York -- said the time clocks are meant to prevent "buddy punching" and improve hygiene and security. Both companies' biometric devices were launched within the past year and are used by customers nationwide.

Buddy punching occurs when late employees ask other workers to punch them in for work. Lathem's FaceIN product manager, Tony Burks, said the system uses two cameras -- a black-and-white device that identifies 60 points on a human face and a camera that takes a color digital analysis of one's features. The devices weigh about a pound and can be easily attached to the wall.

"No worry about Big Brother watching you because everything is a digital template, not an actual image of the individual," he said. "FaceIN is touchless and hygienic. You just simply look at it. The bulk of our business is in health-care business, food services, manufacturing, government and retail."

Don Tozer introduced the system last year at New Jersey State Auto Auction in Jersey City.

"We had several older systems," Tozer said. "A paper system punch card didn't work very well with friends clocking out other people. We also had a fingerprint scan machine. Sometimes (automobile) service guys' fingers are dirty when they come out of the shop, and it didn't pick up on the readings. (FaceIN's) initial expense was a little more than the old paper system you would buy at Staples, but over the long term it saves me a lot of time."

FaceIN and Compumatic's MB1000 have a variety of access combinations, including the face scanner, card access, door access or a finger scanner.

The lightweight devices store information in their software that can be moved to a USB drive onto a computer on FaceIN or connected with an Ethernet cable for both models. Burks said construction companies use FaceIN as an offsite, portable time clock.

Paul Lefkowitz is the retail sales manager of time-management equipment dealer Widmer Time Recorder Co. in Hackensack. His company has sold about 10 FaceINs, and he said Lathem's product is popular with small businesses because of its lower cost and sophisticated technology.

"It's too new for the larger corporations to make the transition because to have 500 people punch in and out at one time you have to have multiple terminals at different locations," Lefkowitz said.

FaceIN and MB1000 each include a payroll system that syncs with the device to automatically calculate an employee's pay. FaceIN's basic model costs $745, storing up to 500 employees, and Compumatic's costs $650 for 50 employees. Burks said FaceIN is secure enough to deny access even to an identical twin.

Compumatic co-owner Harvey Kipnes added a night-vision aspect to the MB1000 in case the clock was in a dark location.

"We tested it up and back," he said. "We used it here for our employees. We didn't have any problems."

(c)2011 The Record (Hackensack, N.J.); Distributed by MCT Information Services

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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