The new biometric identification technologies are being introduced in banking, businesses and government institutions. Soon they will be available on our personal computers, making passwords obsolete.
These technologies, up to now adopted only by the FBI or in science fiction are being used for real fascinating projects. All in the name and in favor of security.
The biometric technologies, in fact, digitally codify characteristics of voice, eyes, face and hands, and associate identity with biological attributes stored in a file. In the USA, some companies which do business on the internet, like Drug Emporium, ING Direct Canada e Election.com, have started experiments of this kind to check user's identities during drugs prescriptions, access to bank accounts or online polls. For sure biometry has better security characteristics than passwords and its functionality, with software and hardware evolution, should not disappoints expectations.
What is biometric identification?
Biometric identification is a technology which digitizes an individual's physiological trait and uses it as a means of personal identification. Unlike badges, key cards or passwords, biometrics can't be lost, can't be used by different people nor be counterfeited and supply an absolute and reliable identification.
All biometric systems have a recording first stage during which user's physiological characteristics are analyzed in order to memorize a code, which will be every time compared with the one obtained at the time of the access attempt.
Digital fingerprint scanning is among the best known and most traditional techniques. People who watch thriller movies know that nobody has the same fingerprints. In this approach, an individual places a finger on an optical scanner, which scans in a digitized image of the person's fingerprint. The scanned fingerprint image is compared with that stored in the database in order to give identity authentication. On the market are already available "home versions" of fingerprint scanning systems to check, for instance, access to a PC. More techniques have been introduced lately, like those for face or voice identification.
In the latter case, vocal identification is based on biological differences and characteristics of human voice, characteristics which can't be imitated. You just pronounce a password in a microphone or in a telephonic receiver and the vocal identification software compares it with the one previously recorded and contained in a database.