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What is Biometrics and How Does it Work?

  • Hrithik Saini
  • Dec 05, 2021
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Imagine you're conducting a special operations mission and need to enter a high-tech facility to disarm a lethal weapon of mass destruction and protect the planet. But first, you must bypass the security system. To get in there, you need more than a code or a password; you also need to know the villain's voice and the structure of his fingers.


On a typical day at work, you could come across this situation, minus the lethal bioweapon. Ports, hospitals, resorts, grocery shops, and even Disneyland theme parks are increasingly utilising biometrics, a system that recognizes you based on physical or behavioural characteristics, for extra protection. 


This article teaches you about biometric technology, how they work, its many types, and their benefits and drawbacks. So, let’s get started.



What is Biometrics?


Though biometrics could sound like something from a science fiction film, this is a very real part of our lives. There is indeed a lot that goes into biometrics and how it works. 


Let us define biometrics too before delving into all it entails. The measuring and study of a person's unique anatomical and behavioural features are known as biometrics. This technique is used for recognition (determining who someone is) as well as authentication (someone is who they say they are). For anyone to verify their identity, they must:


  • Have anything specific, such as a card, badge, or master key.

  • Understand anything specific, such as a nickname or password

  • Using a unique feature of your body, such as your fingerprint, face, or irises


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How Biometrics Works?


Biometrics seems to use who you are to authenticate you rather than something you have (like a key) or whatever you know (like a password). Biometrics can involve physical attributes like your face, fingerprints, irises, or veins, as well as behavioural features such as your voice, calligraphy, or typing rhythm. Personal qualities, unlike keys and passwords, are exceedingly difficult to lose or remember. 


They can also be tough to imitate. As a result, many individuals believe they are safer and better than locks or passwords. There is no disputing that biometrics appears sophisticated, however all biometrics increased portion the same three steps:


  1. Enrollment


When you're using a biometric system from scratch, it captures basic information concerning you, such as your name or an identification number. It then records or takes a picture of your unique attribute.



  1. Storage


Unlike what you would see in movies, most systems do not save the entire image or video. Instead, they study your characteristic and convert them into to a code language graph. Some systems additionally save this information on a smart card that you take around with you.



  1. Comparison


The program compares the characteristics you offer to the information on record the next moment you utilise it. Then it either accepts or rejects you claiming to be who you say you are.


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Components of Biometric System


Biometric security technologies, such as the fingerprint scanner seen on the IBM ThinkPad T43 (right), have become more widespread in the house. The same three components are also used by systems:


  • A sensor that identifies the trait will be utilised for identification.

  • A computer that collects and saves data.

  • A program that analyses the characteristics, converts it to a graph or coding and does the actual evaluations.



Types of Biometrics


Biometrics is not a technology that is yet another. Biometrics may be utilised in a variety of ways to determine whether or not an individual is who they claim to be. Physical identities and behavioural identifiers are the two types of biometric identifiers.


Physical identities are constrained to a predefined set of qualities, but behavioural identifiers are limited only by human creativity. Both may be used to tell the difference between a person and a robot. Typing habits, bodily motions, and navigational patterns are examples of behavioural features. 

The image depicts the Types of Biometrics and has the following points : 1. Facial Recognition2. Fingerprints3. Iris recognition4. Retina scanning5. Voice recognition6. Handwriting recognition7. Vein scanning8. DNA recognition

Types of Biometrics

Let's take a look at some of the most popular sorts of physical identifiers.


  1. Facial Recognition


Face recognition with the usage of algorithms to map an individual's physical traits and then collect the information for these aspects. A facial recognition system will employ biometrics to scan the appearance and analyze it to a database to identify a result. 


This technique examines over 80 components of the person’s face using face detection, face capture, and facial match. In contrast to Apple's Face ID, Facebook uses facial recognition with its DeepFace software, which can identify a particular individual in each new photo we post to the digital platform.



  1. Fingerprints


The utilization of our fingerprints is another prominent sort of biometrics. The previous iterations of the iPhone, which utilised Touch ID before switching to Face ID, are an apparent illustration of this. 


This is especially evident while visiting Disney theme parks, where you will be asked to scan one of your fingerprints before the entrance. In airports, as well.


Fingerprints are often used to verify instead of identifying people, which is what Disney parks utilise to give access to various regions of the park. Similarly, many businesses utilise fingerprint scanners rather than timesheets. 


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Those systems make use of a camcorder and a light source. When a user lays their finger on the smooth surface, the programme matches the print against with a series of pegs to assure a proper reading. A fingerprint has over 30 distinct features (called minutiae) that a detector will collect for authentication.



  1. Iris Recognition


Iris scanning, also known as iris recognition, employs the usage of a video camera, white spectrum, and near-infrared light. Whenever the eye is 3-10 inches away from the camera, the program works to find:


  • The pupil's central location
  • The iris's periphery
  • Pupil's periphery
  • Eyelids and lashes


The iris pattern is then converted into a code line. Iris scanning is becoming more common in the security analytics industry, as the likelihood of misreading one iris code for just another is one in ten to the 78th power. In addition, there are approximately 200 points of reference, compared to 60-70 in fingerprinting.



  1. Retina Scanning


Retina scanning differs from iris scan in that a picture of your retinal vessel pattern is employed as an identifiable attribute in this biometric technology. Retina scanning is also approximately 70 times more precise than iris scans and 20,000 times more precise than fingerprint scanning. 


One disadvantage is that retina scans necessitate a person focusing on a single location for 15 seconds while shifting their eyes.



  1. Vein Scanning


The veins, like your eye or fingerprints, are distinctive. And while many identical twins don't really have similar veins. Their form also doesn't vary much as we get older. Using a vein recognition system On a scanner, you must place your finger, wrist, palm, or backside of your hand. 


After that, a camcorder will snap a photo using near-infrared rays. The blood in our veins will look black in the photograph, and the programme will generate specific tasks on the form and position of the vein structure.


Scanners that examine vein architecture are not the same as hospital vein scanning exams. Radioactive particles are typically used in vein imaging for medicinal reasons. Biometric security scans, on the other hand, simply employ light that is identical to the light coming from a controller.



  1. Voice Recognition


Voice recognition, also known as voiceprints, is distinct because when you move your lips to talk, your vocal cords form a distinctive shape. To make that happen, you must utter a precise word or phrase that the system demands, or provide a lengthy sampling of your voice so that it can recognise you regardless of what you're speaking.


An audio spectrogram, which is simply a diagram that indicates sound frequency, is the input utilised in a voiceprint. Various speech frequencies will result in a variety of forms on the graph. Colours or shades of grey are also used in these graphs to illustrate the characteristics of a voice's tone.


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  1. Handwriting Recognition


Using handwriting to select individuals may appear to be a bad idea. After all, with a little time and effort, most people can learn to replicate other people's handwriting. It appears that obtaining a copy of someone's signature or the requisite password and learning to counterfeit it would be simple.


However, biometric systems examine more than simply how you create each letter; they also examine the act of handwriting. They look at the amount of stress you apply, as well as the pace and cadence in which you write. 


They also keep track of how you construct letters, such as whether you append dots and slashes as you go or only after you finish the phrase.


These characteristics, in contrast to the basic forms of the letters, are extremely difficult to fabricate. Even if someone obtained a duplicate of your signature and tracked it, the system would most likely reject their counterfeit.



  1. DNA Recognition


DNA scanning is the process of identifying someone by analysing certain regions of their DNA. A hair follicle or a drop of blood might be used as an example. DNA scanning is a new form of biometric that is mostly used in police departments to investigate crimes.


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It is the only biometric procedure capable of linking a person to relatives and providing precise details about a person. Another significant advantage is that the results of a DNA test may be obtained in as little as 90 minutes.



Advantages & Disadvantages of Biometrics


Whenever it refers to security and other associated duties, biometrics has distinct advantages and downsides.


Advantages of Biometrics


Biometrics innovation and technology have some evident advantages. Among them are:


  • Biometrics, unlike even the toughest passwords, are difficult to forge or steal.

  • Simple to use and convenient

  • There is little change in a person's life.

  • They are non-transferable

  • Elements are ubiquitous and may be found in everyone.

  • Elements can be monitored and compared in the future.


Disadvantages of Biometrics


On the other hand, no system is flawless, and biometrics have some drawbacks that must be addressed.


  • Getting the biometric system up and running is expensive.

  • A biometric information database can be hacked, leading to a security breach.

  • Injuries can prevent biometric authentication from working ( a burn on a finger could negate a fingerprint scanner)

  • False rejections and false accepts are still possible.

  • Some systems are more difficult to modify for the elderly or individuals with impairments.


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Privacy and Other Concerns


Some individuals are opposed to biometrics for cultural or religious grounds. Others see a society in which sensors recognise and monitor them as people walk the streets, tracking their actions and purchasing habits without their knowledge. 


They question if businesses would sell biometric data in the same manner that they sell e-mail contact information. People may also ask whether a massive database containing essential information about everyone on the planet will exist someplace and whether that material will be secure there.


In addition to the possibility for intrusions of privacy, detractors of biometrics note various problems, including:


  • Overconfidence: The belief that biometric systems are impenetrable may cause users to disregard daily, common-sense security standards and the need to secure the system's data.

  • Accessibility: Some systems cannot be modified to accommodate specific groups, such as the elderly or individuals with impairments.

  • Interoperability: In an emergency, agencies utilising various systems may need to share data, and delays might occur if the systems are unable to interact with one another.


However, biometric technologies do not yet have the capability of storing and cataloguing data for everybody in the world. Most just save a tiny quantity of information about just a limited number of users. They usually do not save a record or a real-life depiction of a person's qualities; instead, they turn the data into a code. 


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Most technologies also only operate in the one location where they are installed, such as an office complex or hospital. Although various organisations are attempting to standardise biometric data, the data in one system may not be compatible with that of another.

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