Very nice auto-recognition and auto-login system for healthcare workstations

I met the founders of SensibleVision, creators of the Fast Access computer security and access control software, at HIMSS a few weeks ago. I was fascinated because it’s one of those few security applications that you can understand in under a minute. Fast Access is a program that installs onto Windows workstations and allows users to simply sit in front of their computers and be automatically logged in using facial recognition. It’s a nifty program uses your web cam to “see” you, and recognize you. It automatically logs you in when you sit down, and logs you out automatically when you walk away. It doesn’t get any simpler. The folks at SensibleVision sent me a webcam (but there’s nothing special about it, it’s just an off the shelf $25 camera) and their software and we tried it out in my office.

Installation was very simple for both Fast Access and the camera. I just popped in the CD, followed the on screen instructions, and rebooted. I was ready to go in minutes. When the computer rebooted I was prompted to login regularly so that the camera could get “used to” my face. When I walked away after that I was automatically logged out. It did take the computer a few logins to fully recognize my face but the software, in its simplicity and effectiveness, is pretty impressive. Because it doesn’t require a centralized system to manage and works directly off of normal Windows authentication (including Active Directory) it’s fairly easy to start with a few workstations to give it a test drive.

For healthcare workers that that have to log into and out of systems with valuable medical information this is a very useful application because the various workstations they use can remember them automatically based on their face. And, in case the facial recognition ever fails, users can simply use their passwords. It lets them log in as soon as they come in front of the computer, and they don’t have to remember to log back out because once they leave the workstation Fast Access will log them out.

The login time was fairly quick. After logging out it took about 3-5 seconds for the camera to log back in.

The only issues I found were that when booting up it takes as long as 3-5 minutes just to start up Fast Access. This could have been a problem with my workstation but I have a pretty beefy system. Since it’s only at boot up, it’s not a big problem for me. Also, when first booting up the camera could not recognize my face very well and after being logged out for 1 or more hours the program took a bit long to respond. These are all probably glitches in the software that will improve over time.

The only process problem I see is that once the system works well for users, they might actually forget their passwords for those systems that do not have this system. I’d have to do a little process analysis to see how big the problem might be.

But, all in all, it’s worth checking out.

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8 thoughts on “Very nice auto-recognition and auto-login system for healthcare workstations

  1. This is an interesting approach to the problem of intermittent logon. I investigated Ensure Technologies (http://www.ensuretech.com) and found their solution to be robust and unobtrusive. (Disclaimer: their international channel sales guy is an old friend.)

    Ensure uses a Bluetooth-based proximity system that requires users to enter a password in addition to the wireless proximity detection, using the “something you have + something you know” gold standard for identification/authentication. It works well in dimly lit settings where the vizrec approach wouldn’t but the additional requirement of the password makes it more cumbersome than the SensibleVision solution, perhaps too cumbersome for really busy hospital staff who move around a lot, like in an ER or ICU. Ensure had excellent-looking features for centralized management.

    It’s nice to see these kinds of systems beginning to proliferate. It’s always good to have options.

  2. Good comment, Dale. I have seen many solutions like Ensure and other wirless proximity (including location based systems) but I really like the SensibleVision approach. It’s not perfect but if it ever does “break” (face recognition doesn’t work) it rolls back to simply asking for a password.

    And, the other thing I like is that it doesn’t require central IT to do all the work. Almost anyone can do the installation and training, even on a departmental basis.

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  4. Definitely a plus for ease of use but I have to wonder about security concerns. What happens if you hold up a picture of someone else’s face? Maybe a fob in addition to face recognition is the way to go.

  5. Good question about photos. Sensible Vision developed the FastAccess software to be highly resistant to photographs. When creating the biometric database, FastAccess includes multiple local environmental variables. This allows the software to reject photos of authorized users. FastAccess does provide built-in support for additional security factors, including challenging for pass-phrases on a periodic basis. However with the high level of security provided with the face recognition, many organizations will find this unnecessary.

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