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Biometrics Technology and its Scope in Future

Submitted By: 

Neha Rastogi
The term Biometrics is a combination of two words- bio i.e. life and metrics i.e. measurement. It refers to the metrics related to the human characteristics, particularly the physical and behavioral aspects. The technology is implemented to measure and statistically analyse people’s biological information mainly for their identification, access control or surveillance. Every individual is unique and carries a separate identity in the form of traits like fingerprints, hand geometry, iris recognition, voice, etc.

Biometric verification is gaining a lot of popularity among the public security systems as well as in the commercial market. In our daily life, we witness the use of biometric in so many places such as the digital attendance system at offices, security checkpoints at airports, wearable tech gadgets retrieving our biological information, and even our national ID cards aka Aadhaar cards are created using biometrics technology. In fact, this national ID program holds the largest biometric database in the world. 

Biometrics Technology

Figure 1: Biometrics Technology

In order to undertake biometric authentication, there are several methods of collecting the data. Each of these methods has its own importance whether performed separately or combined with other forms of data collection. Interestingly, some forms of biometric authentication can be performed even without the knowledge of the subject under surveillance.

Following are some of the most commonly used biometrics methods:

• Face Recognition

Face Recognition-Biometrics

Figure 2: Face Recognition Technology

This system works by analyzing specific features of the individuals through a digital camera. These characteristics include information like the distance between eyes, the position of cheekbones, jaw line, chin, the width of the nose, etc. The data is gathered in the form of numerical quantities and then combined in a single code which is then used to uniquely identify each individual.

• Fingerprint

Fingerprint identification refers to the procedure of comparing the pattern of ridges, furrows and minutiae points of the fingers. It has been reported that after comparing the database of fingerprints collected in more than 140 years, no two fingerprints were found to be the same, not even for the identical twins.

• Hand Geometry Biometrics

Hand geometry readers measure the user’s hands along with many dimensions and that is compared to the measurements stored in a file. Since this method is not as unique as fingerprints or other similar methods, it’s not preferred at places with a large population or with high-security applications. Rather it is suitable to be used alongside other forms of biometrics or for simple applications like attendance operations.

• Retinal Scan

It’s a biometric technique that analyses unique patterns on an individual’s retina blood vessels. In this method, a beam of infrared light is cast into the person’s eye when he looks through the scanner. As the retinal blood vessels readily absorb light, the amount of reflection varies. It is then digitized and stored in the database.

• Iris Recognition

In this method of biometric identification, mathematical pattern-recognition techniques are used on the video images of the individual’s irises. It utilises video camera technology with subtle near-infrared illumination to capture the intricate structures of the iris. Then these patterns are subject to mathematical and statistical algorithms to encode digital templates for the identification of the individuals.

• Signature

Signature recognition is a form of behavioural biometric which digitizes the signatures of individuals for identification and authentication purpose. It is performed in two ways. In the first one, the signature is taken on paper and then digitized through an optical scanner and then the signature is analysed through its shape. The second way is to take signatures on tablets which acquire information in real-time.

• Voice Analysis

It’s the study of speech sounds for purposes like speech recognition. Such studies involve medical analysis of the voice along with speaker identification. Much like face recognition, it offers a way to authenticate the identity of the subject without his/her knowledge.

Applications of Biometrics

The applications of biometrics can be divided into three categories  - :

• Commercial: It includes applications like computer network login, e-commerce, ATM/credit cards, PDA, etc. 

• Government: It includes applications such as driver’s license, border control, passports, nation ID cards, etc. 

• Forensic: It encompasses activities like corpse identification, terrorist identification, identifying missing children, criminal investigation, etc.
 
The most common applications of biometrics are described in the list below -:

 Logical Access Control

It refers to granting access to a computer network either at a workstation or remotely from a distant location. The conventional methods of getting registered through usernames and passwords can be easily hacked or manipulated. So, to avoid the growing number of cyber crimes, the method has been replaced with two modalities namely fingerprint and iris recognition.

Either these devices are connected to the workstations through USB or the sensor is embedded into the device itself. The method is quick and there is no fear of data getting stolen or hacked. Referred as Single Sign On Solutions, totally eliminates the financial expenses of password resets.

 Physical Access Entry

It refers to giving an employee the access to an office building for a secure entry. Earlier, keys and badges were given to individuals followed by the smart cards. However, these can be easily replicated, lost or stolen. So, in order to resolve such issues, fingerprint recognition accompanied by hand geometry scanning act as Multimodal Biometric solution. In such methods, the biometrics is hardwired to an electromagnetic lock strike.

 Time and Attendance

 

Time and Attendance-Biometrics

Figure 3: Biometric Time and Attendance System in Offices 

All kinds of businesses irrespective of the industry, need to keep a track of the employees as to how much time they are contributing to the organisation so that they are paid accordingly. Following the traditional methods can lead to a lot of data manipulation. In such a situation, hand geometry along with fingerprint recognition are the most commonly used methods. Besides, Vein Pattern Recognition and Iris Recognition are also gaining popularity owing to their non-contactless nature.

 Law Enforcement

All the law enforcement agencies across all levels of Federal Government use biometric technology to identify the suspects. The most traditional method used for this purpose is the Fingerprint Recognition, but nowadays facial and vein pattern recognition methods are also being used in the market.

The fingerprint of the suspect is taken and run through a massive database known as Automated Fingerprint Identification System aka AFIS. This system has now been replaced with Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System. It offers the following advantages  -:

• The results from criminal searches can be sent to the concerned law enforcement agency within 24 hours.

• Latent fingerprint images collected from crime scenes are stored into IAFIS databases.

• Highly digitized criminal photographs can be obtained upon request anytime.

• These databases also support remote connectivity in a way that the law enforcement officers can connect to the required database through a secured Wi-Fi connection.

 Surveillance

 

Surveillance-Biometrics

Figure 4: Surveillance Camera recording activities of the crowd

Surveillance is basically keeping an eye on a large group of people through devices from an established baseline so as to determine any kind of abnormal behaviour. The most common technique used for this purpose is the facial recognition. This modality can be easily and secretly deployed through CCTV cameras and it’s largely followed by a lot of places. It offers a great chance of identifying a suspect or criminal in heavily crowded areas.

The techniques used for surveillance can be either overt where people know that they are being watched or it can be covert where they have no clue that their activities are being recorded. The latter method usually utilizes facial recognition technique for authentication and identification of individuals.

Latest Biometric Market Trends

• Smartphones

 

Smartphones-Biometrics

Figure 5: Fingerprint Recognition in Smartphones

The smartphone market is one of the most potential space for biometrics applications. Right from unlocking the phone through fingerprint recognition to the use of voice recognition and face recognition, a smartphone is highly integrated with biometrics. It not only eases the operation but also increases security and safety of your data.

• Wearables
 
 

Wearables-Biometrics

Figure 6: Wearable Gadget monitoring the brainwaves of the body

The market for wearable devices is currently witnessing a boom and is highly based on biometrics. Almost all wearables measure the biological characteristics of the individuals like the sweat, brain activity, and heart rate. Such data is detected to identify valuable information regarding the health of the person wearing that device.

• E-Commerce

With the rise of e-commerce, people are undoubtedly very happy to avail the facility of online shopping but the online payment methods are often subject to a lot of threat. So it is being proposed that instead of accessing the user account through credentials, the use of fingerprints, iris, and facial recognition can go a long way in ensuring a secure login. Moreover, it will save the store managers from numerous queries every time a customer forgets his/her account.

• Cloud-based Biometrics

Cloud computing is gaining a lot of popularity in the corporate world irrespective of the size and nature of business. This is because it offers a highly convenient, secure and mass storage space for all the valuable data. However, there is still a need to ensure security which can be done by deploying biometrics possibilities like smart spaces, access control applications, ambient intelligent environments.

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