Bill Gates once said in a memo that biometric identification technology
would be the most important innovation in the IT industry for the
next few years.
Biometric Identification Technology and
Biometric Identification Systems
Biometric Identification Technology refers to the automated use
of physiological or behavioural characteristics to determine or
verify identity. Physical human characteristics are unique, and
they can be classified in two categories, physiological characteristics
and behavioural characteristics.
Biometric Identifications Systems consist of a reader or scanning
device, software that converts the scanned information into digital
form, and, wherever the data is to be analysed, a database that
stores the biometric data for comparison with entered biometric
data. In converting the biometric input, the software identifies
specific points of data as match points. The match points are processed
using an algorithm into a value that can be compared with biometric
data scanned when a user tries to gain access, which then decides
whether the user is accepted or rejected.
The Development of Biometric Identification Technology
The history of identification based on physical characteristics
can be traced back to ancient Egypt where they would measure the
length of different parts of the body on order to identify a person.
Modern Biometric Identification Technology development began in
the early 1970s, but due to the limits in computer technology and
reliability, the first systems were considered extremely expensive.
However, due to constant developments in computer technology and
reduction in prices, along with improvements in accuracy, Biometric
Identification systems are now being used more and more in the commercial
world for authority control as to door locks and attendance records.
There are now a large number of Biometric Identification applications
ranging from hand and finger geometry, fingerprint, facial recognition
to voice and even typing recognition.
At present the leading types of verification systems in the biometric
market are finger print scanners and hand readers. In 2000 the International
Biometric Group (IBG) issued a report of the revenues gained by
each biometric technology in the year 1999. Please see diagram below
Fingerprints have been used now for more than 200 years, and is
the most well-known technology. The advantage of taking finger prints
is that it does not take up much space. However, the tips of the
fingers are quite dirty, too dry or too moist then this will affect
the accuracy of the results. Furthermore, inconvenience is caused
when taking a sample as pressure must be exerted, and in some areas
taking fingerprints may be a violation of a person's rights.
Hand image reading, where a 3D image is taken of the fingers, was
the first technology to enter the commercial world, and is extremely
consistent and reliable. The system is not easily affected by the
outside environment or physiological changes, is very convenient
and is currently used for door security, attendance records and
identity verification. In 1991 the Sandia Research Institute conducted
testing on several leading biometric systems. The research showed
that finger reading technology received high marks in level of security
and accuracy, convenience, safety and acceptance by customers. The
table below clearly shows that the hand reading system was much
more readily accepted by users than other systems.
||Number of Acceptance
||Number of Rejections
||Acceptance Rate (accepted no./rejected
Advantages of Biometric Identification Technology
Biometric Identification Technology is now the
most convenient and safest method of identification, and does not
need to remember a personal ID number or a password, and you do
not need to take a key, smart card etc. Biometric Identification
Technology is extremely accurate and reliable because within a given
time period every person's physical characteristics are unique,
which makes the possibility of false verification or imposter acceptance
extremely small. Together with modern computer systems Biometric
Identification Technology can easily form a completely automatic
safety, supervisory and administrative system.