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All About Biometric Access Control Systems

Biometric Access Control Systems: An Overview

We have all seen the movies: a thief in a jewelery heist is stopped dead in his tracks by an eye scan after breaking through level after level of security. Of course, in the movies, the thief will probably find a way around the system and end up getting away. However, in real life, this kind of technology reigns supreme in defending sensitive information, controlling security of a building, and generally protecting against infiltration. The kind of technology used in an eye scan is known as biometrics, a process based on cross checking the physical or behavioral characteristics of a person with a recorded version of these characteristics. Biometrics is a superior method of security in that physical and behavioral characteristics are far more difficult to replicate than traditional methods of access control like the use of ID cards or passwords. Biometrics allow for a greater amount of control because personal traits are difficult to misplace, and very rarely change radically enough to warrant nonrecognition.

Who Uses Biometric Access Control Systems

A number of different individuals and organizations utilize a wide variety of biometric access control systems. There is one use of biometrics that seems like an everyday occurrence, and it seems so normal that is not normally lumped in with this branch of sophisticated technology. Handwriting recognition is used in grocery stores across the world for credit card verification. Other everyday uses of biometrics are fingerprint scans at airports and voice verification for remote banking. Additional users of biometrics include hospitals and hotels. Even Disney World gets in on the act, using finger geometry identification to allow ticket holders varying levels of access between parks. Businesses today can see monumental benefits from installing a biometric access control system. Using biometrics instead of time cards ensures that businesses will not suffer dishonesty from employees. A person who is not physically present is not able to clock in when biometrics are used. High security for sensitive access or protected items is usually best accomplished with an iris scan. Irises of the eye are extremely unique and almost impossible to replicate. Biometric access control is even used on a personal level. More and more computers are using finger geometry in lieu of passwords for easy and secure verification. Almost everyone can find a use for biometric access control systems in improving security.

Types of Biometric Control Systems Available

There are multiple types of biometric control systems available to today's business person. Systems are made that verify handwriting on a tablet. As stated above, this type of system is often used in authenticating signatures for credit cards. However, this sort of biometrics can also be used to verify employees for entrance to a facility, be used as a password, or work in conjunction with iris scanning systems and vein scans for an elevated level of security. A second type of biometric control system is the kind which analyzes hand and finger geometry. Because this kind of analysis is less unique, it is used for additional authentication. The third type of biometric access control system analyzes voices. Everyone's pitch, speech patterns, and speed create a unique "voice print", which can be used to identify a person. This is especially useful in cases of remote verification. Iris scanning is the top choice for high levels of security. Because iris scanners by identifying 200 points of reference, iris scanners are extremely difficult to fool. A new biometric technology is gaining popularity for jobs mostly done by iris scanners. Vein geometry is used to identify veins underneath the skin, which are extremely unique to an individual. Vein scanners are just another of the many options available to protect information and access to physical locations.

How Biometric Access Systems Work

  • All Biometric Systems
  • Biometric access systems work under the assumption of a few key steps. First is enrollment, the recording of the physical characteristic which will be later used to verify access. Second is storage. Most files are stored as a graph or code. The third step is comparison, in which an input of the physical characteristic is compared to the system's file. In addition, biometric access systems all use sensors, computers, and software to execute identification. Each biometric system functions under unique principles related to these three elements.

  • Handwriting
  • Handwriting is analyzed on a tablet, which looks at things like speed, whether i's and t's are dotted and crossed during or after a word, the amount of pressure used, and how the individual letters are shaped. The data is then compared to handwriting obtained during enrollment in the system.

  • Hand and Finger Geometry
  • Hand and finger geometry are analyzed by placing a finger or hand on the sensor. The sensor then takes one or more pictures and compares this to the images on file, closely examining proportions and patterns.

  • Voice Analysis
  • Vocal analysis is completed through speaking into a microphone or a telephone. This is then compared to a recording of the password phrase or a longer sample of speech obtained during enrollment.

  • Iris Scanning
  • Iris scans are completed with the aid of a digital camera, which takes a picture and then finds reference points within the original recording. The odds of mistaking one iris for another is one in 10 to the seventieth power. Those are pretty decent odds!

  • Vein Geometry
  • Pictures of veins are taken using infrared light, which causes the veins to show black. Because veins are internal and completely unique, even between identical twins, it is highly improbable that anyone would be able to trick a vein scanner.