Getting Beneath the Surface on Biometrics

Blog Date:  9/28/2011
Author:  Ray Coulombe

Biometrics is one of those areas of security technology whose roots go back a ways, but whose best days are yet to come. I can remember getting fingerprinted prior to my Air Force ROTC summer camp years ago (won’t say how many); and taking my kids to the local police station to get their prints on file — for all the right reasons, I might add. Since then, fingerprint technology has subtly made its way into our daily lives through consumer products, which drive technology acceptance and lower costs. How many of your laptops have a fingerprint reader on them? It has become quite common. Beyond, electronic scanning now captures multiple fingers, single finger rolls and flat features. It has been provisioned in mobile applications and in harsh environments, allowing for quicker identification and apprehension of criminals. Fingerprint reading is the granddaddy biometric on steroids. And biometric technology has spread…along several dimensions.
Scanning the Hand
The Eyes Have It
Iris scans produce the optical equivalent of the fingerprint. Unlike fingerprints, it is a non-contact technology, and the target surface does not tend to wear, allowing for longevity of the image. However, the scanning equipment can be expensive, require adjustment, may be sensitive to ambient lighting conditions and have susceptibility to spoofing with high-quality images (fake copies) of the eye.
Face Scanning
Some companies have developed proficiency in searching along analytic lines, but alerts based on facial recognition have not proven broadly effective. Also, the conditions for face capture will limit the number of faces processed. These may include requiring good lighting, stable images, limited IP video compression, both ears visible, and proper angle and field of view. Disguises and even facial expressions may alter effectiveness.
Link to Complete Article as it appeared in Security Technology Executive Magazine


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