Biometrics—Ready for mainstream?
We’ve been hearing a lot about biometrics lately I think maybe we are at the tipping point when it comes into more widespread use. I recently spoke to John Trader at M2SYS Technology and he gave me a summary of where biometrics has been, it’s challenges, and now, how the move to a hybrid form may be just what integrators—and their end users—are looking for. He said that modern biometric identification technology must be flexible to ensure reliability. Here’s what else he said:
“When the modern era of adopting biometric technology in the private sector began approximately five to six years ago, choosing a biometric system to deploy was easy. An end user simply explained the specs of their project to several potential Integrators who served their vertical market, evaluated the offers and usually went with the lowest price option that did the job effectively. At the time, fingerprint technology was the only biometric modality that was available at an affordable implementation price so biometric hardware options were limited. However, as more and more businesses adopted biometric technology, many found that fingerprint technology did not turn out to be the “one-size fits all” technology that they had hoped.
More integrators realized that due to user or environmental variables, fingerprint technology had limited functionality to enable widespread identification and authentication for all of their end users. Variables (age, ethnicity, climate, etc.) that directly impacted the integrity of an individual’s fingerprint were rendering biometric fingerprint technology limited in its capacity to work for a certain percentage of the population using the fingerprint readers. Those integrators seeking a biometric authentication and identification interface were beginning to understand that fingerprint technology had subtle limitations to be an across-the-board solution. At one point, fingerprint recognition was a perfect solution for small scale security deployments but as the internal biometric needs of an organization began to grow and expand to larger scale security applications, biometric technology deployments required more customization to satisfy the dynamic conditions that end users faced for a larger population size.
As biometric technology evolved, the development of vascular recognition technology alleviated the need to scan fingerprints and instead used near infrared light to scan vein patterns of the finger and palm for biometric identification. This was a breakthrough in the field of biometrics because it meant that fingerprint integrity would no longer come into question as a possible roadblock to properly utilize biometrics when identifying and/or authenticating an individual. It was also a positive development for businesses and organizations that were using biometrics because it meant that they could upgrade to a vascular biometric hardware technology that would ensure a near 0% fail rate and high tolerance of skin surface problems. Integrators realized that switching to a new hardware modality meant more development time, cost and multiple integrations. As end users received word that switching their hardware to vascular biometric technology meant not only purchasing new biometric hardware devices but also investing in new integrator software to facilitate use of their new hardware it caused them to hold off or rule out making the upgrade purchase.