In the second part of our Biometrics editorial series, we understood why computer vision is the building block of e-passports and smartphones. We also unveiled the first mobile companies that embedded biometric solutions on smartphones as a way to protect customer data. Now, we’re going to see why are smartphones the best channels to deliver biometric systems to crowds and what other biometric authentication systems can be enabled on electronic devices, besides fingerprint recognition.
The biggest mobile companies in the world wouldn’t have placed such an irreversible and expensive bet on their devices (biometric authentication systems), if they weren’t convinced the customer base wanted and would pay for this kind of security on their devices. So, why is a smartphone the best channel for delivering biometric systems to the masses?
For one, it’s convenient. Think about this: the average resident in Great Britain has, on average, to remember 19 passwords across all e-mail, finance and social media platforms. Wouldn’t it be easier, more efficient and more secure if all they needed was a quick finger or iris scan? Also, biometric authentication systems fit perfectly on the small display of phones nowadays, providing a better user experience – no need to change keyboards or type long usernames.
Let’s not forget that most phones either are already equipped with all the sensors needed for this technology to work, or they can easily be adapted to accommodate it. It may be convenient to use our electronic devices as wallets and payment authorization platforms on the go, but that’s precisely why we’ll need extra security for the device. Enabling biometric authentication on the lock screen is the first line of defense against identity and information theft.
Finally, the biometric scanners used on smartphones, such as Apple’s Touch ID, are usually open to third-party developers, allowing them to offer you equally secure access to apps.
Fingerprint recognition alternatives: iris, voice, vein patterns analysis
Besides enabling biometrics on all the phones out there, what more can engineers do to provide data security? Add other biometric signatures. Where fingerprints fail, vein matching and iris recognition work wonders. Blood vessel patterns are on the inside of the body, where they can’t be altered by abrasions or other surface reconditioning.
Moreover, vascular scanners don’t require direct contact and they analyze patterns extremely quickly, in fractions of a second. Not only that, but, according to the chief of NYU Langone Medical Center (who uses them to identify unconscious patients), “vein patterns are 100 times more unique than fingerprints”. In 2002, Hitachi and Fujitsu launched vein biometric products, with the latter focusing on use at electronic point of sale devices. The main advantage for this form of biometrics is the inability to produce a usable “dummy”.
Iris recognition scanners are also able to work without direct contact. Iris analysis has extremely low chances of false results, since even identical twins don’t share the same iris texture. The recognition process happens swiftly and some systems maintain their security even when the user is wearing glasses. Could a picture mislead the recognition algorithm? It depends. If the system you are using has liveliness detection technology you are safe. If not, perhaps you should think twice.
*In the fourth chapter of our series, we will round-up the industries where Biometrics are making a difference and the overall benefits this technology is bringing us as we speak.
*This article is written as part of an editorial series presented by FotoNation.