"Best" New Access Control Product?

By Brian Rhodes, Published Apr 09, 2013, 08:00pm EDT

It's 'award winning', but is it useful? With 3M Cogent's MiY-Touch fingerprint reader winning an ISC West 2013 "Judge's Choice" award, the #2 overall for the show and tops in access control, we wanted to dig deeper to find out why. Is the unit worthy of a "Best of" award, or is it just another fingerprint readers not quite demanded by the market?

Product Overview

While the ISC West NPS Showcase [link no longer available] bizarrely trumpeted the MiY-Touch as 'Fun to use', the device did not appear any more enjoyable than typical fingerprint readers. Alternatively, the claims of being 'fast' are difficult to validate on a trade show demo unit with a small number of fingerprints to match, compared with hundreds when actually deployed in the field.

However, given those caveats, the unit was responsive and low-profile, and weighed just over a pound, which means it can be mounted on drywall or delicate wall surfaces with little more than reinforcing anchors.

In default configuration, the unit can be used as a standalone access control reader, and door hardware and user records can be controlled within a single unit with no additional hardware needed. Aside from its lightness, the unit is on the small side, roughly comparable to a mid-range prox reader at ~6.5" x 4.5" X 2.0". The image below shows the unit's small size:

Other Attributes

The MiY-Touch offer a range of notable features like:

  • FIPS-201 Compliant: The unit's fingerprint template matcher and fingerprint sensor have been tested and are approved for 'high security' use and meets PIV, CAC, and TWIC standards.
  • LCD Touchscreen: 3.5" Display, that indicates use instructions and coaches users how to use the device. Screens can be customized by the end-user with included software, and alternatively be programmed to function as a keypad.
  • Uses 802.3af: The unit can be PoE or 12 VDC powered. The unit also includes outputs to power door hardware strikes or relays.

Advantages

The unit possesses some strengths that distinguish it from generic fingerprint readers:

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  • Inexpensive: The real strength of the Miy-Touch is low cost, with street pricing expected around ~$450. While the cost of this device is not as low as proximity readers or keypads, it is inexpensive compared to the frequently $900+ 'standalone' biometric readers.
  • Time & Attendance: The default configuration of the unit permits it to be used as a timeclock, where reads are time/date stamped according to user, and downloadable to payroll systems or ready made reports.
  • Multifactor Ready: The unit can be configured for more than just fingerprints. The touchscreen supports PIN entry, and select types of contactless card readers are available. The unit then can be configured to require more than a single credential, and supports more stringent high-security access requirements. For additional background on Multifactor Credentials, see our primer.

Disadvantages

However, the reader is not without potential shortcomings:

  • Capacitive Sensor: As we noted in our 'Fingerprint Readers Examined' report, the MiY-Touch uses a capacitive (semi-conductor) type of reader that is more prone to read errors and difficult than optical types. While the low price is notable, the capacitive sensor is the main reason why the price is lower than other enterprise-ready fingerprint readers.
  • Indoor Only: Another aspect that limits application is the fact the reader is indoor only. While biometrics adoption indoors has its place, many facilities employ access control on outdoors or perimeter openings. Lacking waterproofing and environmental ratings required in the applications limit the cost of the unit, but they also greatly limit the potential applications.
  • No Prox Support: The unit lacks the option of a Prox format contactless reader, instead supporting MiFARE/DESFire formats. While certain regions of the globe will find this useful, most of the domestic US market will not be able to use their prevailing credentials with the reader.

Ideal Vertical

Needless to say, the mix of features in this 'award winning' unit position it ideally for high-security and government verticals. The fact it supports FIPS-201, PIV/CAC, and multi-factor credentialing hit several checkmarks for specification in those markets, but the overriding advantage of the unit (low cost) is offset in commercial verticals by the lack of Prox support.

 

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