Combining Technologies at the Entrance to Improve the Customer Experience

By Larry Anderson

Collaboration among manufacturers in the physical security industry can result in systems that are easier to install for integrators and that provide a better customer experience for end users. Illustrating the point is the recent collaboration among a turnstile technology company, a supplier of short-range wireless readers/writers, and a biometric business focused on “frictionless” access control.

“The more manufacturers collaborate with each other, the more benefits for end users,” says Steve Caroselli, CEO of Orion Entrance Controls. “Better collaboration means a better user experience. We look for opportunities to collaborate and make sure the experience is above and beyond.”

Orion’s collaboration with ELATEC RFID Systems and SAFR touchless biometrics by RealNetworks Inc. highlights the advantages of manufacturers working together to ensure technologies operate smoothly in the real world.

Taking Ownership of the Customer Experience

When Orion Entrance Controls provides a SpeedGate swing-glass optical turnstile, they take full ownership of the customer’s experience. That means ensuring the turnstile application operates as it should regardless of which component of the broader system might be at fault. To the customer experience, a card reader that doesn’t work is the equivalent of a turnstile that doesn’t work. Which component is at fault is irrelevant, and in fact, invisible, to the overall customer experience.

As the most visible element in many access control systems, dependable operation of turnstiles reflects positively on the manufacturer and on the entire system.

To ensure an optimum customer experience, Orion tests various third-party components with their turnstiles to ensure flawless operation before a turnstile is delivered to a customer. Customers buying an Orion turnstile send the card readers they want to use to Orion’s corporate headquarters in Laconia, N.H., where Orion engineers ensure seamless operation.

In addition to scenario-based testing, readers are placed inside the turnstile for a streamline appearance, which can be a challenge given the variety of sizes and types of readers a customer might choose. Some readers are designed to be bolted to the wall rather than installed inside a turnstile, which complicates adaptation efforts. In short, historically for Orion, ensuring the optimum customer experience involved extra time and effort, although obviously it was worth it.

Providing Flexibility for Any Environment

Seeking to simplify the process, Orion has found an alternative to using many different types and models of card readers for its turnstiles. Deploying an RFID reader/writer from ELATEC provides flexibility to operate in a variety of card and reader environments, including almost all 125 kHz and 13.56 MHz contactless technologies. The product is compatible with low-frequency (LF), high-frequency (HF), near field communication (NFC) or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals. An integrated BLE module supports mobile ID and authentication solutions. There is an integrated antenna for LF and HF to ensure excellent contactless performance.

Using applicable firmware, the “universal” configuration of the ELATEC reader hardware is compatible with any card system. It works with all the access control protocols, including SEOS, OSDP and other open protocols. “We can buy one product and it can be anything it wants to be with other firmware,” says Caroselli.

The small form factor (around 3 inches square) of the ELATEC module lends itself to easy installation inside the turnstile housing. The slightly raised, smooth bezel outside outer-ring finish caters to the desire among architects that turnstiles be streamlined and modern.

Easy availability of the ELATEC readers helps Orion continue to serve customers despite recent disruptions in the supply chain. And ELATEC’s reader hardware has earned global certifications that enables Orion to use their products for customers around the world.

Testing To Ensure Smooth Operation

Before embracing the ELATEC reader module, Orion tested it for three months to ensure compatibility with its turnstiles. ELATEC was responsive at every stage as the relationship evolved, providing sample equipment for testing and working closely with the Orion team. Everyone in the ELATEC sales and engineering team, right up the company’s C-suite, worked to support Orion during the testing phase. In the end, in addition to other advantages, ELATEC’s detection speed and read range compares favorably to competing technologies.

“We move really fast as an organization, so we are looking for other organizations that move very fast,” says Caroselli. “We met with ELATEC one week and had the equipment for testing the next week. We like to work with companies that move fast, and they are culturally aligned with how we do business.”

The Orion turnstiles incorporate an ELATEC TWN4 Palon Compact panel, a versatile panel-mount reader designed for integration into third-party products and devices. It supports enhanced interfaces, especially RS-485, and reflects the advantages and integrated tool support of the ELATEC TWN4 family.

Orion works with all the various stakeholders – architects, consultants, integrators, and end users – to ensure total satisfaction with an installation.

Biometric Technology For “Frictionless” Access Control

Orion is also implementing SAFR SCAN biometric technology into their turnstiles using hardware and software from RealNetworks Inc. The facial recognition reader technology, designed for mainstream commercial access control, provides a “frictionless” experience, and allows users to pass through turnstiles at a walk. The system can authenticate up to 30 individuals per minute with 99.9% accuracy despite varied lighting conditions.

Orion designed a mounting system to incorporate the biometric reader into their turnstile design. SAFR’s system provides a good user experience when it comes to enrollment.

On each turnstile, the SAFR technology can operate separate from the ELATEC reader or in conjunction with it for multi-factor authentication in higher-security applications.

Innovation For New Applications

A broad approach to the customer experience reflects Orion’s positioning as a technology company in addition to being a manufacturer of turnstiles. Their Infinity software is the ecosystem “nerve center” platform to ensure operation and connected through a single “pane of glass.”

The need to protect more entrances beyond the lobby led Orion to develop DoorGuard, a LIDAR-based solution that detects each person who passes through a doorway and prevents tailgating (like a turnstile) for applications such as stairway doors, perimeter doors, data centers, IDF closets, etc. The software mimics the advantages of a turnstile to monitor access control and occupancy.

Orion’s Constellation is a presence detection system that uses UWB (ultra-wideband) radar to sense where people are in a building for emergency response and building utilization applications.

Removing Friction During Installation and Beyond

“One of our core values is to remove friction and make customers’ lives easier,” says Caroselli. “Our people-first philosophy is: What can we do to make your life better? We want to be systematic, and everything must be repeatable in terms of how we react and interact with customers.”

“The selection of ELATEC products allows Orion to provide their customers and partners with a flexible RFID reader solution that supports numerous credential options and virtually all transponder technologies,” said Paul Massey, CEO of ELATEC, Inc. “This is especially valuable in multi-tenet, multi-credential environments.”