It’s more a scene from James Bond than a 9am College ritual; more evil villain opening the laser proof doors to his steel vault than staff checking into the office, but facial recognition scanners are fast becoming a means for employees everywhere to check into work, and the South West College is proving no different.
Forget your old fashioned employee I.D. cards, facial recognition systems are the latest version of employee time clock software. The technology is impressive (the system of 3-D analysis that can read up to 60 facial points unique to each employee means these cameras will tell your co-workers apart better than you can!) and since the images are collected only as digitally encoded information and cannot be reproduced as a photographic image, there’s no need to be self conscious of a bad hair day or put any extra effort into your appearance in the morning. Still, is this new technology something of an invasion of privacy? If nothing else, is it enough to dismiss the idea as simply creepy?
The idea, in principle, is that it keeps an eye on employees, eliminating such problems as ‘buddy punching’: the process of one employee using another’s card to swipe them in or out of work. The other option in this pursuit would be to use a thumb print recognition system, but this is less favoured because of a potential spread of germs. However, surely this particular ‘war against germs’ is a futile fight. What’s next? Will they stop us from using our hands to open the same doors?
It sounds like technology for technologies sake. Yes, face scanning systems are supposedly quicker, but this is more a factor for large factories with thousands upon thousands or employees. Rarely would lines be spotted in smaller staff areas, particularly with a flexi-time system employed.
The final say, however, as with many things, is in the finances. Fancier technology usually means bigger bills; but here, it does not. The facial recognition systems are surprisingly cheap, so perhaps all the negative things listed above – if they are negative at all - are not in fact reasons to avoid them, but actually mere hindrances, outweighed by the positives.