Readers are the most apparent part of any access control implementation, and they are in direct contact with the end user. Hence, it becomes extremely important to know the different types of readers available and the different features of each. It is worth noting also that new readers are continuous introduced in the market each time a new technology emerges. Readers are divided into 3 main types depending on the way end-users use them: keypads, proximity, and biometric.
Keypad readers are considered the most simple and price efficient between all types of readers. For a keypad reader, users shall memorize a passcode (PIN) and use it whenever the reader needs to be triggered. This makes them vulnerable since pins can be shared or stolen. This is why it is not recommended to use them in highly secure applications.
For proximity readers, users are given a credential that communicates with the reader from a proximity. Credentials can take several forms: proximity cards, RFID tags, and BLE/NFC. BLE stands for Bluetooth Low Energy and is used on iOS-based devices. Whereas NFC stands for Near Field Communication and is used on Android-based devices. It is a new technology that permits users to use their mobile phones to access restricted areas.
The latest introduction of technology to access control readers has led to the birth of biometric readers. Biometric readers are identified by either the retina, fingerprint, face, or the voice of a human being. Biometric readers are considered the most secure of all since it is very hard to mimic biological IDs
Choosing the best reader is a matter of design preferences. If security is the issue, then biometric readers are the best choice. If reliability is a concern, then proximity readers become a better choice since they are less prone to electronic failures than biometric readers. If the implementation is price sensitive, then keypad readers would become the most appropriate choice.