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Biometrics is a new term for many, but it is not a new idea. The idea of Biometrics first began with finger print analysis. Today, Biometrics has expanded to not only your fingerprints but also ear, face, facial thermogram, hand vein, hand geometry, iris, retina, signature and voice analysis. Technology has gone from science fiction to reality. This paper will include a brief description of each of the types of Biometrics and who is using them.
The answer to "Who is using Biometrics?" may surprise you. In the United States over 150 schools are using a Biometrics system. This system allows the children to pay for cafeteria lunches. Over 200,000 students are participating in the Fingerprint Biometric system. The average system will cost any where from $4,000 to $10,000 to implement. How does it save you money? The answer is simply, you no longer need cashiers. All you need is a monitor. There is no longer cash to be accounted for, and children no longer have to bring money to school. Parents don’t have to worry how the money is being spent. The Fingerprint system is easy and results in quicker lines.
Some major concerns for the parents are; 1.) How does the Fingerprint technology work? 2.) Can this technology be used in the police department? 3.) What about privacy issues? The technology being used in our school cannot be used in law enforcement. The fingerprint of your index finger is scanned, then transformed into a twenty-seven point grid, and a mathematical algorithm is the result. This is what the computer matches upnot your actual fingerprint.
Ear Prints have had success for the Police in the United Kingdom. They have been using this technology to find missing persons and to identify unknown bodies. Ear prints are generally accepted as being unique, still it is hard to get a conviction if an ear print was left at the seen of a crime. Even though each ear is unique with its contour and lines; it has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the ear print itself left behind is unique.
There are fears of this new technology, because of its possible misuse and its accuracy. One of the greatest fears is that our justice system will go from innocent until proven guilty to guilty until proven innocent. This technology will bring great benefits until it fails, and then a tremendous amount of harm to even those who benefit from the technology.
Hand Geometry is not like fingerprints, hands themselves are not unique. The way Hand Geometry works is by measuring the hands. They measure the thickness, curvature and length of the fingers by putting the hand into a pegged device. More than one person has the same height, so more then one person can have the same size hands. Hand Geometry is used for verification not identifying. This system is widely used by daycare centers, welfare agencies and hospitals. Hand data is easy to collect, no special lighting is required, and this system is easily compatible with other Biometric systems.
Face Biometrics is another choice in the fast developing world of technology. Facial measurements are taken between the eyes, width of nose, depth of eye sockets, cheekbones, jaw line, and chin, then placed in a database. Even though this technology has not yet proven itself effective in the fight of terrorist or wanted suspects there are great improvements being made. Las Vegas uses this technology to identify known casino cheaters. The United States Government is using a form of Facial Biometrics for passports. Even the United States Defense Department has been using this technology for identification purposes in high security areas.
Facial Thermogram is an infrared picture of your face. A special camera is used to take a picture of the facial heat patterns. Each person has a unique facial pattern. This special camera is able to illuminate the patterns of blood flow under the skin. Individual’s blood flow pattern does not change over time, and it is not affected by cosmetics, or even surgery, unless it is evasive enough to redirect blood flow. It has even been proven that identical twins have a different Facial Thermogram. Some advantages of the Facial Thermogram are; that it is non-intrusive, the input is stable, and the scan can be done without the knowledge of the person being scanned. Some disadvantages are that it is very expensive, and is very slow when searching a data base.
Signature Recognition has been used for a very long time. You are asked to sign your driver’s license, social security card, and passport. Ask yourself do all three look the same? Probably not, your signature can changes with age due to arthritis, injuries, and unsteadiness that naturally occurs with the onset of age. So can a device detect when you are in a hurry, just being sloppy, or tired? No it can not. The Signature Recognition measures the pressure you place on a special pen, and measures the changes in the direction the pen goes using a built in grid. The system has a profile of your signature and updates it each time you sign. This technology is getting better, but still has a lot of false readings. Even though this system has a low cost and uses very little additional hardware, it still needs a lot of improvement before it can be fail safe.
Iris Biometrics is technology that identifies you by the color of your iris, which doesn’t change over time. Each person has their own unique characteristic making everyone’s eyes very distinct. This technology is more accurate then finger prints. It can be used on everyone except those who do not have intact corneas or a cornea disease. The eye needs to be placed between 18 and 24 inches away from the camera, and the room needs a diffusing light to reduce reflections. The software transforms the colors and distinct marking in the eye into mathematical algorithms. An additional benefit to the Iris Biometrics is when the iris reacts to the light. A measurement of the automatic reflex to the light can determine if the person is alive, under stress, or on drugs. Japan has already implemented the Iris Scanners in many ATM’s, and there is a movement to make them standard in all machines.
Retinal Biometrics is the picture of the blood vessels in the back of the eye. One of the main draw backs of this technology is that many find it intrusive. You must place your eye 3 to 4 inches away from the scanner to take a proper picture, and this distance is uncomfortable to many. High security facilities have been using this technology, but now it is beginning to trickle down to other facets such as banking, large corporations, and research facilities.
Hand Vein scanning or Vascular Scanning is the pattern of veins, thickness and location on the back of your hand. This is a new technology which is still has some unanswered questions such as, what effects will the scan have if the person has had a heart attack, vascular diseases or problems with arteries, and how does aging effect this pattern? Today, the technology is being applied at military bases, and research as a gun control device. Some day technology will lead to a gun smart enough to know who is holding it, and will only allow you to fire if you match the scan.
Voice Analysis or Voice Recognition is accomplished by the user speaking into a microphone where the computer software analyzes the voice and measures twenty different points. This system is easy to use, and can be accomplished with the existing phone lines. Some disadvantages are that you need to minimize background noise, and it is easy for fraud to occur if you have a tape-recording of the password. The system will not work if the user’s voice changes due to a cold. Another thing to consider is that the system does not take into consideration the normal changes a person has due to aging. The system requires that you have to re-enroll when your voice has changed. Despite the long list of disadvantages, Chase Manhattan Bank has decided to implement the Voice Recognition system. There surveys found that their customers would be more receptive to using Voice Recognition then any other system, and it can be done over present phone line.
Biometrics is being found in government agencies, business, banking institutions, individual work stations and now in homes. The new technology is allowing individuals to conduct financial transaction from home with an added value of security. (The number of advantages for Biometrics are; 1.) There is no longer the need for keys or scan able ID cards to get into high security area. 2.) You don’t have to worry about forgetting, misplacing, or losing these sensitive items. 3.) Biometrics eliminates the need to memorize passwords, and pin numbers. 4.) No one can access your account but you, reducing fraud, and resulting in lower financial losses for both the business and consumer.) MasterCard, estimates that 80% of their credit card fraud will be reduced with Biometrics.
So where is Biometrics going? The answer is further than we can imagine. Research has begun in implementing Biometrics with vehicles. Imagine a system to where your vehicle will not start if you are intoxicated, or on drugs. Even a system that can lock your children or even car thieves out. A gun that will only fire for those registered to that gun. Even something as simple as Fingerprint Biometrics for your garage door opener can prevent an unwanted entrance into your house. The possibilities are endless, especially as the prices come down to a reasonable rate.
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Ross, Arun. Hand Geometry. 20 June 2004