You’ve probably have heard of biometric systems, but you might not be sure how they work and what they have to offer someone like you. Whether or not you’re ready to make the transition from locks that need a key to locks that need the right human eyeball to open, airports, hospitals, hotels, grocery stores and even Disney theme parks are beginning to employ this technology. Let’s take a closer look.
Biometric systems use your physical or behavioral traits to identify you. That means your hand writing, finger print, voice prints, iris structure and even vein structure can be scanned by a computer for recognition. With a biometric security system, you don’t use something you have or know to open a lock; you can open it simply by being who you are. Many people believe that biometric locks are more secure because unlike a key or a password, personal appearances and mannerisms are extremely difficult to forget, and to illegally replicate.
Biometric systems function with three basic steps. The process begins with enrollment, meaning the owner of the biometric system must program into the system basic information about the user. This means your name or ID number. Then the user must record some specific trait of theirs, like a finger print, signature, or vocal password.
The second step involves storage of the information. The data is generally stored graphically or through a code.
The final step involves comparison; the next time you attempt to use or open the system, it will ask you for a new version of whatever you created and then compare what you offer to stored version.. It either accepts the two as coming from the same source (accepts that you’re you), or doesn’t.
Accordingly, a biometric system must make use of three different components: a sensor for detecting the identifying characteristic, a computer for reading and storing information, and software that enables the computer to analyze the characteristic and compare it to newer versions of the same input.
The most widespread biometric security system is the fingerprint scanner available on smartphones and laptops. However, handwriting is also becoming a common form of biometrics. Your first reaction might be to think that handwriting would be one of the most easily copied forms of a security code, but in fact the recording process is much more complicated than that. When someone offers their signature, for example, the sensor of the biometric system not only takes note of the shapes of the letters, but the pressure used to press against the screen, the speed and rhythm at which the signature is written, and the sequence of events that is how you add dots and crosses to words.
Another common use? Vocal passwords. People’s vocal qualities are unique and stem from both the shape of their vocal cavities and the habitual way they move their mouth and throat when they speak. The computer records vocal inputs into a voiceprint using a sound spectrogram. Different speech sounds create different shapes on the graph.