We recently ran a series of posts on how to create and manage alphanumeric passwords from a personal, facility and systems perspective. The digital ink was not dry on the last post, when word was spread that Google will begin testing biometric verification alternatives to the typical passwords next month, in a move that could do away with these complicated logins for good. The new feature, introduced to developers at the company’s I/O conference, is called the Trust API, and will initially be tested with several very large financial institutions in June, according to Google’s Daniel Kaufman. They plan on launching the new identification verification system for Android apps users as soon as 2017,
The term “biometrics” is derived from the Greek words “bio” (life) and “metrics” (to measure). Biometric verification has been used throughout the history of civilization as a more formal means of recognition.
Some examples are:
- In a cave estimated to be at least 31,000 years old, the walls are adorned with paintings believed to be created by prehistoric men who lived there. Surrounding these paintings are numerous handprints that are felt to “have acted as an unforgettable signature” of its originator.
- There is also evidence that fingerprints were used as a person’s mark as early as 500 B.C. “Babylonian business transactions are recorded in clay tablets that include fingerprints.”
- Joao de Barros, a Spanish explorer and writer, wrote that early Chinese merchants used fingerprints to settle business transactions. Chinese parents also used fingerprints and footprints to differentiate children from one another.
- In early Egyptian history, traders were identified by their physical descriptors to differentiate between trusted traders of known reputation and previous successful transactions, and those new to the market.
By the mid-1800s, with the rapid growth of cities due to the industrial revolution and more productive farming, there was a formally recognized need to identify people.
With the widespread use of computers in the late 20th century, new possibilities for digital biometrics emerged. Although the idea to use the iris for identification purposes was suggested in the 1930s, the first iris recognition algorithm wasn’t patented until 1994 and became available commercially the next year.
At the 2001 Super Bowl in Tampa, Fla., face recognition was used to capture an image of each of the 100,000 fans via a security camera and checked electronically against mug shots from the Tampa police.
Federal government coordination started in 2003 with the National Science and Technology Council establishing an official subcommittee on biometrics, and a year later the Department of Defense implemented the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) to help track and identify national security threats.
Click here to see a detailed timeline of the evolution of biometric verification.
Biometric verification is any means by which a person can be uniquely identified by evaluating one or more distinguishing biological traits.
Biometric identification systems can include:
Fingerprint ridges are formed in the womb; you have fingerprints by the fourth month of fetal development. Once formed, fingerprint ridges are like a picture on the surface of a balloon. As the person ages, the fingers get do get larger. However, the relationship between the ridges stays the same, just like the picture on a balloon is still recognizable as the balloon is inflated.
Hand geometry is the measurement and comparison of the different physical characteristics of the hand. Although hand geometry does not have the same degree of permanence or individuality as some other characteristics, it is still a popular means of biometric authentication.
Palm Vein Authentication
This system uses an infrared beam to penetrate the users hand as it is waved over the system; the veins within the palm of the user are returned as black lines. Palm vein authentication has a high level of authentication accuracy due to the complexity of vein patterns of the palm. Because the palm vein patterns are internal to the body, this would be a difficult system to counterfeit. Also, the system is contactless and therefore hygienic for use in public areas.
A retina scan provides an analysis of the capillary blood vessels located in the back of the eye; the pattern remains the same throughout life. A scan uses a low-intensity light to take an image of the pattern formed by the blood vessels. Retina scans were first suggested in the 1930’s.
An iris scan provides an analysis of the rings, furrows and freckles in the colored ring that surrounds the pupil of the eye. More than 200 points are used for comparison. Iris scans were proposed in 1936, but it was not until the early 1990’s that algorithms for iris recognition were created (and patented). All current iris recognition systems use these basic patents, held by Iridian Technologies.
Facial characteristics (the size and shape of facial characteristics, and their relationship to each other). Although this method is the one that human beings have always used with each other, it is not easy to automate it. Typically, this method uses relative distances between common landmarks on the face to generate a unique “faceprint.”
Although the way you sign your name does change over time, and can be consciously changed to some extent, it provides a basic means of identification.
The analysis of the pitch, tone, cadence and frequency of a person’s voice.
Coming soon: IPVideo’s new MOSAIC video management platform offers integration options with biometric controlled access control solutions. Contact your IPVideo Sales Representative to learn more.
Next week we will take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of using biometrics verification.