We’d like to welcome as our latest long-term sponsor MinuteHound, a company that provides a zero-contact biometric time and attendance tracking solution. One of the things I’ve most enjoyed about our TidBITS Content Network business of providing syndicated content to Apple professionals is hearing about the challenges faced by Apple-using organizations of all sorts. For instance, since college in the late 1980s, I haven’t had a job that required filling out a time card or clocking in and out. The field has evolved since then, but many companies still need employees to work specific shifts or keep close track of their on-the-job hours. How best to record that data is an interesting problem.
Employers want to make sure that their employees are working the hours they specify, and not claiming to work extra hours or clocking in friends who aren’t present. Plus, firms may need to adjust staffing quickly to respond to changing business conditions. On the other side of the equation, employees want to make sure they get credit for all the time they work, without spending any more time on tracking than necessary.
A solution to these problems comes from MinuteHound, a company run by a long-time TidBITS reader and our latest long-term sponsor. Instead of asking employees to clock in and out via software, or fill in time cards (online or not), MinuteHound uses biometrics to make clocking in and out as quick, easy, and accurate as possible. MinuteHound is used all over the world.
MinuteHound started about 9 years ago with a fingerprint scanner, but 3 years ago, the company started working on a zero-touch approach that relied on facial recognition and was also Mac-native. With the COVID-19 pandemic causing upheavals in staffing and the desire to avoid touching shared surfaces, MinuteHound released its facial recognition system earlier this year.
Enrollment takes less than a minute. Once enrolled, all an employee has to do is look at the MinuteHound device’s camera—the software can run on a Mac, a PC, or an Android tablet—and MinuteHound figures out who the person is and clocks them in or out as needed. The information is recorded instantly in the MinuteHound Web portal. When the inevitable mistakes happen, a manager can manually correct the data through the portal.
Privacy is of course a question, but much like Apple’s approach with Touch ID and Face ID, MinuteHound’s biometric recognition algorithms never store actual fingerprints or face scans. Instead, they create a token based on the employee’s fingerprint or face scan, and then store that token. Subsequent scans match against the stored token. All information is also encrypted within the cloud-based system.
I can’t pretend that I’ve regularly used MinuteHound in the real world—precise time tracking isn’t something that matters to my company. But I have set up a free MinuteHound trial account, played with the online interface, and practiced clocking in and out by looking at my Mac’s webcam. It works well, although it became obvious quickly that it would be best run on a dedicated device—perhaps an older Mac laptop or an inexpensive Android tablet that would be easy for employees to walk by on their way in or out.
So if you own, run, or are involved with a business that has time and attendance tracking needs, check out MinuteHound. The American Payroll Association estimates that “buddy punching” and schedule exceptions cost the average business 5% of payroll, so at $3 per employee per month ($2 for businesses with more than 100 employees), MinuteHound pays for itself quickly. Especially if you’re still fussing with paper time cards!