The Huffington Post has reported that some 24 hour Fitness centers are implementing biometric scanners to control after-hour access.
As a member of a 24 hour gym I think the use of biometric technology to monitor membership use is a great idea.
It is a little perturbing to be paying membership dues, a portion of which go to help maintain the gym, then have a passel of people who aren’t paying come in and use and often abuse the gym equipment.
People who do not pay for a gym membership often take the use of gym facilities and equipment for advantage. A membership card can be passed from person to person in a family or among friends, making it virtually impossible for a 24 hour fitness center to control who has access.
Even though 24 hour gyms are generally equipped with cameras, it is next to impossible to determine if the people coming through the doors are members or not. At least biometric fingerprint scans would require the leader of the pack to have a gym membership.
Gyms and fitness centers promote the idea as an ideal solution for members and a money saver for the gym. It cuts out the need to carry membership cards and the cost of replacing lost cards. I personally find this a huge benefit. (No, I cannot keep up with my membership card.)
Lost cards are sometimes picked up by non gym members and used for access until the member realizes they have lost a card. Sometimes cards are stolen while you are in the gym by someone who has been admitted by a slacker gym member who lets anyone in on their gym card. (Yes, been through this too, but we canceled the card the next morning because I really have a problem with thieves.)
The 24 Hour Fitness chain is among the first to implement fingerprint scanners at 60 locations in the San Francisco Bay area and in other locations around the nation.
The biggest problems I see with fingerprint check in are that members of 24 Hour Fitness have to remember a ten digit code. (I would forget it right away) The code is entered before the index finger is scanned. As far as I’m concerned this technology needs some work before the fitness center where I’m a member adopts it.
The other problem is still once the door is open there is no controlling who sneaks in with a member.
So, biometric technology still needs work, but its use in the fitness industry is an interesting emerging use of the technology.
Biometric technology is any device which uses physical features from the hands, eyes, or face to identify people. Because biometric technology has decreased in price and increased in availability its use is no longer limited to official police or government applications.
Some feel that biometric scanners may be the eventual answer to identify fraud, although, as a former financial crimes investigator I am all too aware that criminals work just as hard as legitimate companies to keep pace with burgeoning technology. As quickly as it is developed crooks will find a way to overcome the technology.
Undoubtedly, privacy advocates will decry the use of biometrics for commercial purposes, but there are compelling reasons to implement and use the technology to save money and improve convenience.
24 Hour Fitness roles out finger scanners at gyms, huffingtonpost.com