TechDogs-"A Quick Guide To Biometrics"

Surveillance

A Quick Guide To Biometrics

By TechDogs

TechDogs
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Overview

Star Trek, Blade Runner, Robocop, Terminator, Wall-E, Mission Impossible – no, we are not sharing with you our favorite Hollywood movies. However, we couldn’t resist ourselves! We want to take you through the futuristic world of Biometrics. Don’t worry, the movie references will make sense! Let’s start and see where it connects!

We are aware of how Biometrics is used to authenticate your entry to offices, banks and even to your smartphone. Its usage varies with the types of Biometric authentication such as fingerprint, voice, retina, facial recognition, etc. Yet are you aware of what exactly is Biometrics? How did it originate, what is the working of Biometrics and what lies beyond in the near future?

Yes, we want to give you the why, what, where and how of Biometrics. Read on!
TechDogs-"A Quick Guide To Biometrics" Biometrics: Digital Identification Made Simple!
“Activating Voice command – access granted.”


Many a time we have come across this dialogue in various action-thriller movies. Yet, while watching we hardly ever think about Biometrics as a technology. So, to explain in simple terms – Biometrics is the study of a person's unique biological and physiological traits to validate their identity. It is derived from the Greek words bio and metrics meaning life and measure respectively. The tech allows distinctive measurements that label an individual’s identity, making access non-transferable and hard or fake. Biometrics have several examples such as fingerprints, voice, retina, face, palm print, hand geometry, DNA signatures, vein recognition, etc. What you may not be aware of is emerging Biometrics such as gait, body vitals, brain scans, breath print and ear shape as well!

In tandem with this, what better example than Star Trek, the TV show that showcased 4 major biometrics authentication in the movie – that too way back in 1966. Astonished? We were too! The show used Voice ID, Retina Scan, Basic Vitals and Facial Recognition technologies to identify personnel.

Now that you have understood what Biometrics is, let us hop on to the next section to understand how the technology evolved.

Gear up Trekkies… and unlock the next section with your iris!
 

How Did Biometrics Come About?


This isn’t a new technology that erupted recently, unlike automated Biometrics which surely evolved in the last few decades. This technology has its roots way back from the Babylonian empire. Although, it saw major transitions throughout centuries to reach where it is today. Let us lay it down for you century by century:

1800-1900: The 1800s was the time when Biometrics boomed, thanks to modernization and urbanization. Alphonse Bertillon created a layer of identification for criminals using physical traits, which was just limited to their photographs or names till then. Another man named Edward Henry gave this technology an additional boost with the standard for fingerprints, to which Sir Francis Galton made modifications to make it more efficient.

1900-2000: This was the era where another identifier was introduced which was the iris for verification along with the usual hand geometry. Mid-1900s saw the emergence of facial recognition for identification, suggested and researched by A.J. Goldstein, A.B. Lesk and L.D. Harmon. This expanded into Biometrics such as acoustic speech recognition. It was during this era that most government agencies such as the FBI, US Air Force, etc. started incorporating Biometrics identifiers into their system. Along with it, face recognition technology and automated fingerprint identification systems evolved.

2000-till date: Major transformations happened in this era. Why do we say that? We saw usage of facial recognition systems being used in the Super Bowl in 2001 to keep certain people away from the event. Moreover, in 2004 Department of Defence executed a system that possessed the ability to obtain iris images, voice samples, DNA from suspects, etc. In 2008, Google enabled voice identification for Google Maps. Apple gave their iPhone users the facility of voice assistance based on identity using Siri in 2011.

After this there was no looking back – touch ID was released for smartphones and other devices. Cortana (which used Machine Learning) came into existence, MasterCard introduced its Biometric identification card and Byton introduced its first Electric Vehicle with facial recognition, gestural and voice command features. With the spark of this technology, digital identification and authorization have come a long way. Now, let’s take a look at how all this works!
 

The Technology Behind Biometrics


TechDogs-"The Technology Behind Biometrics"A Star Wars Meme About Biometric
Remember Marty Mcfly, yes, the very famous protagonist from Back To The Future! You may also remember that his home had scanners instead of doorknobs and fingerprints were used to validate digital payments. Though it may seem like fiction, in reality, it works only on three simple steps: enrolment, storage and comparison.

So, for example, if the Biometric identifier you select is handwriting – the biometric system will enroll it based on how much pressure you put while writing, the strokes that you make, how you draw your I’s and t’s, the formation of the letters if you are pick up your hand while writing certain letters or not and how you add crosses or dots. All these gestures are captured by the sensors of the Biometrics software which is essentially handwriting recognition software. It converts these angles, pressures, etc. into graphs, making it challenging to manipulate the writing style.

Similarly, these steps are utilized for various other Biometrics identifiers. With voiceprints, the data collected is as a sound spectrogram. Essentially, the spectrogram is a graph that captures the voice and uses it for comparison when someone tries accessing the system. Phew… not that difficult to understand, right?

This is how all Biometrics works: enrolment, storage and comparison. However, you may be wondering, does it work that way with all types of Biometrics? Let’s explore!
 

Types Of Biometrics


Yes, Marty! Essentially there are two types of Biometrics; one that you already use, namely Physical Biometrics & then there is Behavioral Biometrics. Don’t worry, we’ll be decoding both types, Marty!

Physical Biometrics: Essentially, physical Biometrics includes the physical aspects of an individual used for Biometrics. This includes capturing fingerprints, iris, veins, palm prints, DNA, etc.

Behavioral Biometrics: This type essentially covers non-physical aspects, such as gait, voice, typing rhythm, signature, etc.

Certain standards are followed for the usage and storage of Biometrics data, based on the category or type they fall into. Hope it is clear to you now Marty that despite the fact Biometrics is one term, it encompasses a wide range of types.

Having said that allow us to take you through the importance of Biometrics technology.
 

Need For Biometrics


TechDogs-"Need For Biometrics"An Oprah Meme About Fingerprint Biometrics
Ah, surely you have realized how revolutionary this technology is? See, as mentioned in the earlier sections, it was used for identification of the criminals but as the technology grew, it was developed as verification of citizen’s identity for government-related documents or personal uses as well. So that duplication, fraud, misuse, etc. of identity could be curbed. Moreover, these identifiers cannot be stolen and it becomes difficult to decode, change or override the Biometric data. You cannot lose it, nor you can misplace it, which means Biometrics is an easy way of authorizing digital identity.

With the use of these Biometrics identifiers, it becomes simple to secure your personal or business information, as it cannot be accessed without your permission. More importantly, there are many ways a hacker can decode your passwords or the pattern you might use on your smartphone lock screen but they would not be able to replicate your fingerprints or modulate your speech. Hence your identity remains safe and no one can see your browsing history!

Did you know: In the movie Dredd, if the guns carried by the law enforcers were used by any unauthorized person, the gun would explode in their hand. #FictionalUseCase

Of course, we are not moving in that direction but with all these features, it becomes very apparent, the need for such technology enables businesses to keep their applications, devices and data intact with them. Now that you know the need for the technology, let’s understand benefits of Biometrics.
 

Benefits Of Biometrics


Biometrics has two aspects - based on how or where it is used. For example, if it is used for security purposes, then it has an authorization aspect. Yet, for general usage, it can enable quicker and regulated access for certain individuals in the workplace. Sorry, James Bond, your fingerprint isn’t registered! #TryAnotherDay

The following are the benefits of having Biometrics in the workplace or any business device:
 
  • Cuts down on administrative costs

  • Secured monitoring and access to resources

  • Seamless attendance recording

  • Prevention and detection of fraud or unauthorized access

  • Identification with the highest accuracy

  • User-friendly and safe way to assess identity

  • Non-transferable or exchangeable asset

  • Accountability in sensitive business cases


Phew… what more could you ask from a technology to provide! Read on to understand what the future of this technology holds.

Hey Siri… tell us about the future of biometrics, please!
 

Future Trends In Biometrics


TechDogs-"Future Trends In Biometrics"A GIF Showing Biometric Palm Scanners
Biometrics technologies have been a significant addition in terms of providing higher safety, security and accountability. In the future, we will get to see the usage or combination of AI (Artificial Intelligence) in biometrics. With the help of AI, devices using Biometrics will be able to adapt its multiple users, based even on behavioral biometric data. There are even ongoing experiments in implementing chips under the skin with unique IDs that can be read by Biometric systems. This technology is expected to improve at a fast pace and will reduce the likelihood of unauthorized access and false identification. It will aim to make digital interactions, including logging into sites and making payments, much safer and transparent!
 

Conclusion


Although the intent behind Biometrics was to catch and identify criminals, we thought of using unique human traits for identification. How revolutionary! Since then, there has been no looking back; so much so that it has become essential to daily life and in every sci-fi movie!  We hope you have enjoyed reading the article. Until next time, adios from Marty!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Did Biometrics Come About?


Biometrics isn't a recent technological marvel; its roots stretch back centuries. In the 1800s, Alphonse Bertillon pioneered identification methods for criminals based on physical traits, laying the groundwork for modern biometric systems. The introduction of fingerprint standards by Edward Henry further advanced the field. Moving into the 20th century, iris and facial recognition technologies emerged, with governments integrating biometric identifiers into their systems. The 21st century witnessed significant strides, including the use of facial recognition at events like the Super Bowl and the implementation of voice identification by tech giants like Google and Apple. Biometrics has evolved from a rudimentary identification tool to a sophisticated system revolutionizing digital interactions.

What Is The Technology Behind Biometrics?


Contrary to its portrayal in science fiction, biometric authentication follows a straightforward process of enrolment, storage, and comparison. Take handwriting recognition, for instance. The system captures nuances like pressure, strokes, and letter formations, converting them into data graphs for comparison. Similar principles apply to other biometric identifiers like voiceprints, which are captured as sound spectrograms. These identifiers, processed through enrolment, storage, and comparison, form the basis of biometric authentication systems, ensuring secure and reliable identification.

What Is The Need For Biometrics?


Biometrics isn't just about catching criminals; it's about safeguarding identities and enhancing security in various domains. Initially employed for criminal identification, biometrics now serves broader purposes, from verifying citizens' identities for government documents to securing personal devices. Its inherent characteristics, like being non-transferable and difficult to replicate, make it a potent tool against identity theft and fraud. Whether it's securing sensitive information or enabling seamless access, biometrics offers unparalleled security and convenience, ensuring digital identities remain intact and protected.

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Tags:

Biometric Screening Biometric Fingerprint Biometrics Biometric Identification Fingerprints Automated Identification Authorized Digital Identity

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