Biometrics for beginners: do you know what it is?



Nowadays, authentication systems provide us with greater security than ever when confirming identities remotely.

In particular, biometrics offers extensive guarantees in terms of security and precision , since, unlike other methods, biometric data are not easy to falsify and are not interchangeable.

Do you want to know more? Keep reading …

What is biometrics?

Biometrics encompasses the set of physical characteristics and biological measurements that all human beings possess and that distinguish us from others.

These measures are classified according to the type of trait in question. They can be physiological , such as the fingerprint, the face, the iris or the retina; or behavioral , such as voice, signature or way of moving, among others. It should be noted that physiological measurements are considered more reliable, since they do not change (or usually do not change).

⚠️ Recapping. Biometric characteristics …

  • They are linked to a single person
  • We always carry them with us and it is impossible for us to forget them at home
  • They are highly resistant to fraud

How does biometric technology work?

People recognize other people because they have seen them before. Biometric technology works the same.

To identify an individual based on their physical characteristics, a prior registration is needed. There must be some kind of prior contact or “presentation” for the biometric traits in question to be registered and linked to a person’s identity.

That is why, biometric technologies need:

  1. A device to scan or capture the biometric factors of an individual
  2. A software capable of converting those scanned biometric factors into data and comparing them with previously stored biometric factors
  3. And also a database to store biometric data used in comparisons

What is it used for?

Although biometrics is not a new field, a good part of its uses and applications have yet to be determined. Currently, its applications are pigeonholed in the field of security .

Hence, its most widespread uses are:

Online and physical access

Biometric technologies allow us to ensure that only the right person has access to a service, product or physical facilities.

Some concrete examples of this block can be:

  • Access to a digital product or service
  • Confirmation of transactions
  • Acceptance of operations
  • Access to facilities, offices, parking, gym rooms, etc.
  • Entrance to events

Monitoring and surveillance

Biometrics eliminates the discomfort and administrative complexity of manual monitoring, clocking and surveillance systems, both for personnel and resources.

More concrete examples:

  • Time and attendance control
  • Attendance check
  • Capacity compliance
  • Security / alarm systems
  • Vending equipment management

Legal compliance

Biometric technology is also used by law enforcement agencies to confirm the identity of suspects or wanted persons. This use is widespread outside the European Union.

The origin of biometrics

If you wonder when biometrics emerged, you will be surprised to know that its origin dates back to the 14th century in China .

At that time, the explorer and writer Joao de Barros wrote that Chinese merchants already registered handprints using ink.

In the West, the first time that biometric techniques were used was in the 19th century , when a police officer specialized in photography, Alphonse Bertillon, noticed the peculiarities and differences between human traits.

Bertillon created the anthropometric system, also known as Bertillonage, a system that consisted of accurately measuring the length and width of the body’s features.

This method, not entirely precise, gave way to the use of the fingerprint and with the progress of the investigation, it continued and continues to evolve.

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Types of biometric technology

The study of biometrics is progressing by leaps and bounds and is constantly being updated, increasing the rates of reliability and precision when identifying individuals.

The most widespread types of biometric technologies are:

  1. Fingerprint recognition

Fingerprint recognition is the oldest and best-known form of identification; it stands out for its speed, in addition to its great reliability.

Through a sensor, the fingerprint is digitized and is stored in a database. The user is identified by his fingerprint.

  1. 2D and 3D facial recognition

Facial recognition identifies faces thanks to images or videos.

The biometric system is able to recognize people automatically just by scanning a previously registered face.

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  1. Vascular recognition

The system recognizes users based on their vein pattern. It is a novel biometric technology that offers high levels of high reliability, since it is almost impossible to falsify.

In fact, infrared sensors are often used for vein registration. In this way, no traces are left on the reader, which makes the “work of cybercriminals” very difficult.

  1. Voice recognition

Another identifying feature of people is the voice . Voice recognition is a very simple and intuitive system for users, increasingly present in the way we interact with our devices.

  1. Other biometric systems

Other types of technology, such as hand geometry, handwriting recognition or retina control , are present and continue to gain a foothold in the biometrics market.

Benefits of biometrics

At this point, you may be wondering what its benefits are, how they can make our lives easier .

Broadly speaking, there are two major benefits: Convenience and security .

The convenience of biometric systems is due to the fact that access depends on the user, since their biometric characteristics travel with them.

In fact, the great benefit of biometric authentication is that, instead of having a password or PIN that we have to remember, this type of system gives us immediate access because we carry our identification with us no matter what.

Hand in hand with convenience is security. And it is extremely difficult to duplicate a biometric identifier, such as a facial record or a fingerprint.

This combination of security and convenience augurs that the adoption of biometric technology will continue to grow in the coming years and that biometric security systems will become more common than ever.

⚠️ Recapping. Biometrics…

  • It is an accessible system for any person and age

The use of biometrics does not require knowledge in the matter nor does it require a period of adaptation or learning. Users learn instantly, these are very intuitive technologies, in which it is only necessary to take a selfie, provide a fingerprint, speak, etc.

  • It is very comfortable for the end user

Related to the previous benefit …

Biometrics makes it easy for us.

No need to remember password or pin. We have passwords; for everything: unlocking the mobile phone, the bank card, computers, tablets … Using different passwords -as it is the most recommended by the experts- makes that, on many occasions, forget or confuse them.

Although it is technically a complex technology, when measuring user experience, it offers quick and easy processes. Depending on the system used, one characteristic or another is required. In addition, it will not be necessary to carry any card or means of identification that also caused waiting at the entrances.

  • Strengthens security and hinders fraud

It implies physical characteristics, so it is not transferable.

With biometric systems it is possible to reduce a large part of fraud, such as identity theft .

  • It is a combinable and flexible technology

Biometric technologies are very versatile and serve their function as independent technologies. However, combined with other technologies can expand its potential considerably.

For example, the combination of NFC and facial recognition to verify the identity of a person before making a payment.

  • Facilitates digitization and remote living

Biometrics enables remote identity verification. This means the possibility of registering new customers remotely, thus opening the doors of digitization wide.

Goodbye unnecessary travel and waste of time!

  • Offers increased user privacy

The transmission of personal data used by biometric technologies is encrypted using a unique key. Added to this is the difficulty of falsifying biometric traits.

Hence, the privacy of end users is guaranteed.

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