Biometric Technology DemystifiedBiometric technology is defined as the measurement and analysis of unique human characteristics such as DNA, fingerprints, voice patterns, hand measurements, and eye retinas and irises. This technology has been used for centuries.
The Chinese used biometrics in the 14th century to identify their small children by making prints of their hands and feet. Palm prints and footprints of small children were inked and placed on paper. This is still done today.
Biometric systems are used in airports, hotels, hospitals, grocery stores, and government buildings. Most are used for authentication or identification purposes. Biometric technology also comes in different forms: iris scanning, fingerprinting, palm printing, voice patterns, etc. Biometric technology has come a long way. Biometric systems are used for a variety of security measures and in everyday life. With the latest advances in technology, fingerprinting is no longer the only accurate method of identification. In fact, iris printing has become the most accurate. The main reason for this comes from the fact that fingerprints wear down as we age and through manual labor. The iris, however, remain protected from damage by the cornea. This makes it a more reliable biometric trait.
Biometric components and stepsNo matter what biometric system you use, all have three main steps: enrollment, storage, and comparison.
Enrollment is the first step in programming a trait. It is a record of basic information such as a name or identification number along with a unique trait such as fingerprints.
Storage is where the biometric system keeps this enrollment information. The image or recording isn’t usually store. Instead, it is translated into a graph or code. It can sometimes take the form of a smart card.
The final step is the comparison of the graph or code to the employee’s trait used. If they do not match, then the trait is rejected. Biometric technology uses three basic components: a sensor, a computer, and software.
The sensor is usually silicon-based and scans the characteristic for identification purposes. A computer, either internal or external, reads and stores information from the scanner. Software analyzes the trait used on the scanner, turns the information into a graph or code, and performs comparisons.
Applications of Biometric TechnologyThe applications of biometric technology can be found all around us. Some applications we may use every day without realizing it. Other applications come in the form of security. So where to begin? Keys, passwords, passcards, identification cards all have three things in common:
- They can be lost or stolen.
- They can be forged
- They can be expensive to replace.
To clock in to our jobs, we used employee badges. But we ran into a problem with those as well. The badges end up getting washed with the laundry or forgotten at home, stolen or just misplaced. Employers also noticed a growing increase of buddy punching.
Computer security required passwords. Trying to think of complex passwords was hard enough but then we either had to try and remember them, write them down somewhere, or let the computer remember them for us. We eventually would forget them or lose them, meaning we needed to make new ones. Even with the best passwords or internet security, hackers found a way around them all.
The need for authentication and verification grew and grew. Science answered this problem with biometric technology. Using a characteristic or trait that everyone has but is unique to each individual became a solution to the problem.
Fingerprinting was the first use of biometric technology. We knew every fingerprint was unique, different. It became the way we proved who we were. Government agencies like the FBI and CIA would use fingerprinting for identification purposes. So why not use them in other ways.
Biometric technology grows more diverse every day. We use our voice with Blue Tooth apps. We use our fingerprints to unlock our doors or to clock in to our jobs. Facial recognition is used by airport security and other government agencies. We use voice recognition to call On Star for help when we are broke down on the road.