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Biometrics Will Replace Passwords One Day, But Which Will Prevail?

Published: Thu, 09 Jun 2016

In a recent blog I talked about the importance of strong passwords for securing your home and property. But developments in biometrics are anticipated to significantly improve this first line of defense. But the jury is still out on which technology will emerge as the industry standard. As reported by Spencer Ives at Security Systems News, representatives of four different forms of biometric identification — facial recognition, iris scan, fingerprint, and hand geometry — each made their case at TechSec Solutions 2016.

Hand geometry measures the size and shape of your hand. It’s not taking any fingerprints. It is purely a geometry measurement. Iris scanning is sometimes confused with retina scanning. Retina scanning is an older technology that looks at the back part of your eye, the veins. Iris technology looks at the color pattern in your eye, so it’s very nonintrusive. Facial recognition technology is not image-based, it floods your face with infrared light and does a reflectivity saturation of over 2,000 points. Fingerprint authentication is the most cost-effective biometric currently being deployed.

Hand geometry scanners work with adverse conditions and do not raise the same privacy concerns as other biometrics. Minor changes to hand geometry, such as a small bandage, won’t deny access to a user, and the template is also updated with each use, which helps the biometric adapt to weight changes.

The iris doesn’t change over time and is the most stable biometric, as your iris stays exactly the same from 6 months to the day you die. And, as one of the few touch-less biometrics, it’s hygienic.

Like with iris scan technologies, facial recognition has the convenience of being touch-less. The technology is smart enough that if you enroll one twin and not the other, the other twin will not get in. And even if you get in a bar fight and you have a black eye, you still have a lot of points of saturation left and available to you to be able to authenticate.

Both fingerprint and hand recognition is susceptible to cold and dry environments, where the fingerprint could change. The technology also has difficulty with “young children and the elderly. And hand geometry readers are large, so not suitable for many applications.

The judges ultimately found iris scan to be the most compelling and most secure biometric. They did say that fingerprint is the most reliable, but they believe iris has the greatest long-term potential. Features that the judges liked about iris scan included: hands-free technology, low failure rate, and the fact that there is little change in the biometric information over a user’s life.

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