Biometric Devices

By Manish Sharma
21st August, 2015


A Biometric device is a security identification and authentication device. Such devices use automated methods of verifying or recognizing the identity of a living person based on a physiological or behavioral characteristic. These characteristics include fingerprints, facial images, Iris prints and voice recognition.

Origins of biometric devices
Biometric devices have been used by man over a long period of time. Non-automated biometric devices have been used since 500 BC as it was seen that Babylonian business transactions were recorded on clay tablets that included fingerprints. Automation in Biometric devices was first seen in the 1960s. The FBI in the 1960s introduced the Indent mat, which started checking for fingerprints to maintain criminal records. The first systems measured the shape of the hand and the length of the fingers. Although discontinued in the 1980s, this system set a precedent for future Biometric Devices.

Subgroups of biometric devices
The characteristic of the human body are used to access information by the users. According to these characteristics, the sub-divided groups are:
1) Chemical biometric devices
    Analyses the segments of the DNA to grant access to the users.
2) Visual biometric devices
    Analyses the visual features of the humans to grant access which includes IRIS recognition, Face
     recognition, Finger recognition and Retina Recognition.
3) Behavioral biometric devices
    Analyses the Walking Ability and Signatures (velocity of sign, width of sign, pressure of sign) distinct
     to every human
4) Olfactory biometric devices
    Analyses the odor to distinguish between varied users.
5) Auditory biometric devices
    Analyses the voice to determine the identity of a speaker for accessing control.

Uses of biometric devices
Biometrics are being used to establish better and accessible records of the hours employee's work. With the increase in "Buddy Punching"( a case where employees clocked out coworkers and fraudulently inflated their work hours) employers have looked towards new technology like fingerprint recognition to reduce such fraud. Additionally, employers are also faced with the task of proper collection of data such as entry and exit times. Biometric devices make for largely foul proof and reliable ways of enabling to collect data as employees have to be present to enter biometric details which are unique to them.

IRIS and Fingerprint recognition at Heathrow Terminal 4 Immigration
As the demand for air travel grows and more people travel, modern day airports have to implement technology in such a way that there are no long queues. Biometrics are being implemented in more and more airports as they enable quick recognition of passengers and hence lead to lower volume of people standing in queue's. One such example is of the Dubai International Airport which plans to make immigration counters a relic of the past as they implement IRIS on the move technology (IOM) which will help the seamless departures and arrivals of passengers at the airport within seconds.

Handheld and personal devices
Thumbprint recognition become accessible to millions with the iPhone 5S. The fingerprint sensor, also called Touch ID is used to unlock the phone, authorize payments and buy app store applications. The biometric protection added another layer of security, removing the ability of people to look over the shoulders of others and read. Since then, all major phone manufacturers like Samsung and Hawaii have implemented similar technology to enhance phone security and enhance user experience.

Present day biometric devices
The signature is authenticated by the spaces taken in each square
Personal signature verification systems
This is one of the most highly recognized and acceptable biometric in corporate surroundings. This verification has been taken one step further by capturing the signature while taking into account many parameters revolving around this like the pressure applied while signing, the speed of the hand movement and the angle made between the surface and the pen used to make the signature. This system also has the ability to learn from users as signature styles vary for the same user. Hence by taking a sample of data, this system is able to increase its own accuracy.

Iris recognition system
Iris recognition involves the device scanning the retina of the subject and then cross referencing that to data stored on the database. It is one of the most accurate forms of authentication as while fingerprints can be left behind on surfaces, iris prints are extremely hard to be stolen. Iris recognition is widely applied by organizations dealing with the masses, one being the aadhar identification carried out by the Indian government to keep records of its population. The reason for this is that Iris system make use of iris prints of humans which hardly evolve during one’s lifetime and are extremely stable.


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