New-age turnstiles boast looks and high security. This piece of equipment also meets the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

Security is always a balance between convenience and inconvenience. But more recently, chief security officers can now decide on access controls, ID cards and visitor management based on looks as well as security muscle.

Especially inside of buildings, higher security turnstiles blend in with building aesthetics, provide critical tailgate detection and fully integrate with other access control and security video systems. Today’s models range from high-end optical turnstiles to basic mechanical turnstiles, providing options for varying budgets and customization needs. But for Fortune 1000 enterprises and high-rise office buildings, the trend is to better looks and better integration with card access and security video systems.


Can turnstiles fit specific building aesthetics or architectural requirements? Optical turnstiles in particular can be custom designed to blend into any building’s aesthetics. Mid-sized, canister style, barrier arm and non-barrier arm optical turnstiles provide a variety of options to fit linear or even circular open lobby applications. Custom colors and finishes including granite, wood, glass and stainless steel can be used to help turnstiles become a part of a building’s aesthetics--instead of competing with them. This correlates to less noticeable and less intimating access control.

For example, next generation equipment combines intelligence, speed, accuracy and tailgate detection with glass barriers. Such optical turnstile systems are, in essence, extremely intelligent computers. Unlike relying on PLC logic, every lane has a microprocessor programmed with advanced neural network algorithms. Turnstiles aren’t just for busy building lobbies. Full height turnstiles are ideal for indoor and outdoor applications where added security and high pedestrian traffic are priorities, including unattended locations in a facility where only authorized employee access is allowed.

Opticals achieve many objectives when they are properly applied. For example, they can provide:
  • Lanes that control both access and egress – the capability of providing bi-directional travel on small applications using only one lane;

  • Easy integration with all card reader styles, biometric technologies, asset tracking technologies, and subsystems such as security video, duress and IDS;

  • The ability to ensure that each person is identified by either a card, biometric device or PIN when they come through the lanes; and

  • A formidable barrier if access must be halted.
There is a wide selection of finishes from most of the turnstile manufacturers. Additional features include multiple arrays of photo-electric beams that detect tailgating or piggybacking, and that also have the ability to function as a safety device eliminating the barriers from closing on a person going through the lane.

There are so many choices that one company, Boon Edam Tomsed, launched a special Web site to help chief security officers, facility managers and their architects. The Turnstile Webshop ( allows users to select from a variety of features and options, each step customizing the turnstile security entrance to meet specific security and design need. Shown is a variety of traditional waist high, three-arm turnstiles; full height turnstiles; and gates for special use or handicap access. Security levels range from low or moderate security to maximum security.

SIDEBAR: Managing Conflicting Entry Control Considerations

A leading global media company needed to secure the lobbies of two neighboring headquarter buildings in a fast-paced urban setting. The trick was how to balance the competing requirements to make them secure, user-friendly and pleasing to the eye of entrants and the architect. The end-user picked Fastlane Plus (Smarter Security), which combines optical turnstile and physical barrier technology. Arrays of infrared beams cross the passage lanes and are broken as people pass through. Microprocessors at each lane analyze the beam interruptions and recognize the direction of the person and distinguish body mass from other innocuous objects, such as swinging purses or rolling briefcases.