Contactless Access Control Devices and Building Security

26 February 2021

Contactless Access Control Devices

The last 12 months have seen a move towards contactless access control devices. One of the main drivers has been to comply with UK government regulations to make buildings COVID-secure. In this article we explore the ‘touch points’ within a typical access control system and the new contactless technologies.

What are Access Control Devices?

An access control system comprises of a software monitoring and control package and hardware devices for controlling entry to and exit from a building and specific doorways within. Access control devices include door controllers and readers and the associated door ironmongery that unlocks and locks controlled doors.

Access door controllers come in several sizes and within the Entro series are available in 2-door and 8-door versions. A 2 door controller can be used to control one door and up to 100 door controllers can be operated on a single network. For the Entro series this means that the total number of doors that can be controlled by the software package, in this case EntroWatch, is from 1-800 doors.

Access control readers are the typically wall mounted and are the access control devices to which a card is presented to gain entry through a doorway. When a credential carrying card is presented to a reader, the information is checked for authorization against the credential record within the software database. If everything tallies up, then entry is granted and the door controller is instructed to release the lock. If not, access is denied.

Contactless Access Control Readers

One of the ways to make a building COVID-secure is to remove the ‘touch points’ or at least reduce the number of them down to a minimum. Presenting access control cards to card readers is one way to do this. The cards can be read by a typical reader when placed within a few millimetres of the readers. The readers themselves can have antimicrobial protection built-into them (such as the EntroPad) and the cards and lanyards can also be supplied with antimicrobial protection.

Another way to go ‘contactless’ is to install face camera terminals to perform a similar function to card readers. These access control devices use artificial intelligence (AI) to compare the image presented to their built-in camera against the credential image stored within their software database. Face camera terminals with a Wiegand interface can be used as readers a compatible access control system such as the Entro series.

More advanced face camera terminals can also be used for health screening and can measure forehead temperatures to within +/- 0.3°C and also check to see if a person is wearing a face mask (where required. Typical applications for face camera terminals include offices, factories, care homes, surgeries, hospitals, schools, restaurants and retail outlets. Camera terminals with health screening functions can also be set-up as a stand-alone screening solution if there is no access control system within the building.

Mobile credentials provide a third way to make entry into a building ‘contactless’. A person can carry a credential on their mobile phone which when presented to a compatible reader will either allow or deny access to a specific doorway.

Contactless Door Exits

Controlling how people get into a building or access-controlled areas within, is just one aspect of a building security system. Exits are also important and traditionally this is controlled by either an exit reader or a Request to Exit (RTE) button. Contactless RTEs are also available within the EntroPad range for example that allow door exit by simply placing a hand within a few millimeters of the device.


It is relatively easy with the latest access control devices to reduce contact points within a building and make a building more COVID-secure. There are various reader technologies and developments to facilities this including mobile phone and facial recognition and more traditional card readers with built-in antimicrobial protection. These types of access control device can also be retrofitted to Weigand compatible access control systems, allowing any building to upgrade its security and implement the latest UK government requirements for COVID-security.