ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What is Biometric Identification?

Updated on March 7, 2015

Biometrics: Using Fingerprints and Retinal Scans rather than Passwords

How many user-ids do you have? Passwords? The answer may depend on the number of accounts you hold on various internet sites. We are told not to select the same userid and password, but my goodness - who can remember them all? Hackers get smarter and slicker year after year, being able to trick computer systems into thinking that they are, in fact, the user logging in.

Will the technologies of biometric identification solve these issues in the future? In other words, will our unique fingerprints, retinal scans and the like protect us and allow us the freedom of never having to create and remember unique ways of identifying ourselves online? Biometric identification may also free us from our key chains, allowing us to enter our homes, cars, safes, and other secure locations with the scan of a fingerprint or retina. Its not fictional stuff anymore. The future is here!

But is there a downside to this so-called freedom? Are we actually sacrificing our privacy? Some would say yes, indeed. And its already happening. Countries around the world are requiring biometric identification authentication for passports, identification cards, and in banking systems (Japan, United States, Germany, Australia, Israel, Iraq, Nigeria and Brazil, among others).

What is biometric identification?
What is biometric identification? | Source
Fingerprint scanners for biometric identification
Fingerprint scanners for biometric identification | Source

What is "Biometrics"?

In general, "biometrics" is a statistical analysis of certain human biological or physiological traits, such as fingerprints, signature style, voice, irises, so as to uniquely identify and distinguish people from each other. As stated in Wikipedia, various biometric identfication technologies are compared as follows:

  • Uniqueness is how well the biometric separates individually from another.
  • Permanence measures how well a biometric resists aging.
  • Collectability ease of acquisition for measurement.
  • Performance accuracy, speed, and robustness of technology used.
  • Acceptability degree of approval of a technology.
  • Circumvention ease of use of a substitute.

Obviously, some of the most accurate biometric technologies include DNA analysis. Less accurate would be examining signatures. Some of the new technologies in development may result in identification by gait (the way a person walks), ear canal analysis, and odor!

What Biometric Identification Methods Are Most Secure?

Some concerns have been raised about people stealing fingerprint identities (for example) and compromising a biometric identification system. After all, unlike a lost PIN or password, a fingerprint cannot be re-issued. Proponents of biometric identification technologies note, however, that it is very unlikely to occur.

In general, these are the best biometric identification techniques. With the possible exception of face recognition, the characteristics analyzed do not change over a person's lifetime:

  1. Face recognition: Easy to do, even when the subject does not know his or her face is being scanned. Privacy concerns, of course.
  2. Fingerprints: A gold-standard for over 100 years. Even identical twins do not share the same finger prints. Minor concerns arise if hands are not clean.
  3. Retinal scan: Examines the pattern of blood vessels at the back of the eye, which are unique to each person. Takes at least 15 seconds to complete. No way to run this test without the subject knowing.
  4. Iris scan: Similar to retinal scan; information does not change over the person's lifetime.
  5. Hand geometry: Much like face recognition, this is easy to do and non-intrusive. Subjects place their hand on a slate for analysis of distances between fingers, thickness of palm base, etc. Clean hands not required.

Biometric Identification can help with military operations
Biometric Identification can help with military operations | Source

When will be Relying Exclusively on Biometric Identification?

Biometric identification technologies can work accurately and consistently. For example, fingerprint scanners may malfunction if the person's tips are dirty, resulting in a poor scan.

Eye scans are not intuitively used, and can result in extra time, inaccurate results, and also some discomfort from the light shined into the eye. Facial recognition is still in development; some systems can be fooled by hats or facial hair. Ultimately, scientists expect it to be better in a few years. But that still doesn't address invasion of privacy concerns.

Its safe to say that we're in for a James Bond-esque future with biometric identification. Cool gadgets will literally be at our fingertips. There is much to be learned and fine-tuned, but someday soon you may be able to kiss your thick wallet and key chain goodbye.

© 2008 Stephanie Hicks

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Starlinkindia profile image

      Star Link Communication Pvt Ltd 

      3 years ago from D-88/4, Okhla Phase I, Okhla Industrial Area, New Delhi, Delhi - 110020

      Great Hub ! Biometric Identification is most important in this latest technology world, Stephanie Hicks you write informative hub.

    • profile image

      Biometrics 

      7 years ago

      Now with multi-modal biometrics more readily available- aka fingerprint plus facial recognition - ID with two or more techniques, will drastically reduce error.

    • parentalsoftware profile image

      parentalsoftware 

      8 years ago

      great hub, thank you. Im wondering why most people don't actually have parental software or some good internet security on their pc. Children are vunerable everday.

    • profile image

      Biometric 

      8 years ago

      These are great. We just ordered some UPEK models from http://www.avidbiometrics.com

    • profile image

      Heathrow hotels 

      8 years ago

      What makes me laugh is that Heathrow has biometric scanning and is contributing to the UK bio databases but anyone wanting to avoid being added to the database can just fly into one of the other London airports!! UK border security is pathetic.

    • Manna in the wild profile image

      Manna in the wild 

      9 years ago from Australia

      Good hub. You don't mention the problems with false positives, and false negatives, or the combination of authentication factors, as biometrics are seldom used as a single factor authentication.

    • privateye2500 profile image

      privateye2500 

      9 years ago from Canada, USA, London

      Great Hub - Kudos - keep it up.

    • Caregiver-007 profile image

      Margaret Hampton 

      10 years ago from Florida

      We have Roboform to help with the plethora of passwords. I'd rather have a limited number of good passwords and take my chances there than give up privacy that could some day be misused by a bureaucrat. I would rather be inconvenienced than to relinquish more.

      For example, think of all the errors the IRS makes and which can take years to resolve. So what if they deny you the right to travel or buy necessities because of your retinal scan, because one their faceless computers with a clerical input error erroneously considers you their property? Scary! And it's not so far-fetched. There are real life stories of multi-year, horrendous battles which FINALLY get resolved in favor of the taxpayer, who was honest and correct all along. And whose life, health, career, and relationships were severely damaged for years.

    • compu-smart profile image

      Compu-Smart 

      10 years ago from London UK

      oh yeah!! me2:Dlol

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      10 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thanks! I do like adding the news feeds.

    • LiamBean profile image

      LiamBean 

      10 years ago from Los Angeles, Calilfornia

      Great links. The news items are a great touch.

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      10 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thanks Blogger Mom! You should read LiamBean's hub too - he wrote one on the same topic! :-)

    • Blogger Mom profile image

      Blogger Mom 

      10 years ago from Northeast, US

      Steph, great hub! This stuff is so interesting - I'm excited to see how this is implemented in the future!

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      10 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      You guys! Can you just imagine the black biometric market for body parts? Yech! Actually, I think the decay factor would result in the chop shops (ahem) not staying in business for long...

    • Bonnie Ramsey profile image

      Bonnie Ramsey 

      10 years ago from United States

      LOL good point comp. But taking that a bit further, if I had to choose between getting my finger chopped off or my eyes gouged out, I would HAVE to go with the fingers LOL.

      Bonnie

    • compu-smart profile image

      Compu-Smart 

      10 years ago from London UK

      Great hub Steph!

      I am not to sure about fingerprints as this can lead to criminals chopping peoples fingers off. I like the iris scan and i can't wait until Biometrics becomes part of our society in all kinds of security and transactions so i can not just kiss my wallet n keys goodbye but also the 100 + passwords i have!

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      10 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Sniff away!! LOL! I'm with you Bonnie!

    • Bonnie Ramsey profile image

      Bonnie Ramsey 

      10 years ago from United States

      Awsome hub! I can't wait to get started thinning mine out! As far as the privacy issue. if you don't have anything to hide, there is no reason to worry about giving your identification, be it by fingerprinting, retina scanning or any other method. Wanna smell me? Go ahead and sniff away! LOL Thanks for this info. It is very impressive!

      Bonnie

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)