Get to know biometric technology for business

News: Biometrics

June 04, 2013

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Biometrics, from face to fingerprint recognition, are coming to businesses of all sizes: allowing secure access to buildings, PCs, smartphones and company networks by replacing easily forgotten passwords.

Biometric technology measures our individual human characteristics and stores them in such a way that they cannot be ‘reverse engineered’ by criminals.

Most of us already have our facial biometrics stored on the government passport system and fingerprint and voice recognition are well established too.

Of course any part of our body and even our behaviour can be measured and used for identification and authentication purposes. Japanese researchers have developed a seat pressure map that can measure the unique characteristics of a person’s posterior. This could authenticate and log in workers as they sit at their workstation or in their vehicles.

Other researchers have homed in on ear shape biometrics, which could work in combination with other biometrics such as facial recognition and even gait – the way you walk – to authenticate people walking into a building past strategically placed CCTV cameras.

If all this seems futuristic, the future has a habit of arriving all too soon:

IBM has predicted that by 2016 a person’s unique biological identity and biometric data – facial features, iris scans, voice files, even DNA – will become the key to safeguarding personal identity.

Three ways biometric technology could boost your business now:

  1. Securing smartphone and tablet access. Increasingly mobile devices hold crucial data and may access corporate systems. Password protection is easily compromised. Fingerprint and facial recognition systems are already available at low cost, and iris and voice recognition systems offer enterprise strength security.
  • Securing physical access. Employees “buddy punching” can compromise time and attendance systems, clocking in for friends who are not actually there. There are several fingerprint-based systems that address this and even finger and palm vein readers for contact-less clocking in.
  • “Soft” biometrics don’t identify a specific person but can identify whether a person looking at an advert is male or female, for example, and can allow gender-appropriate marketing. This is still a novel enough feature to have real impact.

Think technology, Think Tracey Caldwell. As an experienced business technology journalist who writes for radio, newspapers, as well as various IT journals and publications, Tracey continues to provide insightful articles for Moneypenny.