Biometric Technology FAQ

Apr 18 05:09 2007 Robert Andrew Print This Article

Biometrics comes from the Greek words bios meaning life and metron meaning measure. Biometrics is defined as the study of how to...

Biometric technology uses intrinsic human characteristics such as fingerprints,Guest Posting handprints, facial characteristics, irises or retinas in the eyes, voice, and many other things for identification purposes. Biometrics security systems are growing rapidly because they are considered more secure than conventional security systems. After all it's much more difficult to steal or duplicated a fingerprint than it is to do the same with a key or a password.

That's a brief overview of biometric technology and here are some frequently asked questions:

1. Can fingerprints be stolen or copied from biometric database?

Absolutely not. First of all only templates are stored in the database. Secondly, only a tiny subset of the characteristics of the fingerprint are extracted and stored in the template when the finger is scanned. The template stored in the database holds enough information to verify the finger presented is yours when your finger is scanned in the future but the entire image of the fingerprint is not stored so there is no way to copy or steal fingerprints from the database.

2. Can biometric systems be fooled with replica fingerprints?

Yes, it is possible but not likely to fool biometric systems and if the system is fooled it will happen only once. In addition to recognizing fingerprints, biometric systems are sophisticated enough to recognize body temperature and blood flow to make sure the finger presented is from a live human being and not just a molded replica. Secondly, fingerprints are never exactly the same twice due to human factors. The fingerprints will be similar enough to identify individuals when scanned but if an exact replica of a previously scanned fingerprint is scanned again, the biometric system will know it and deny access.

3. What's the enrollment capacity of biometric databases?

When authorized users present biometric data to be used for future identification by the database, they are said to be "enrolled." The answer as to how many can be enrolled depends on the system. It could be as few as 10 or as many as 3,000. However if capacity is reached it's not difficult to increase capacity if nothing else by using an offsite database with a larger capacity. Existing technology allows for quick retrieval of data even if the database is thousands of miles away in another state.

4. How quickly can a fingerprint be identified by a biometric system?

The speed at which fingerprints are identified is dependent on two factors. The first factor is the speed or processing power of the system. The second factor is the number of fingerprint templates in the database. Obviously more templates means increased processing time. In any event, identification speed ranges from 1 to 2 seconds so either way it's very quick.

5. Will dry fingers affect biometric systems?

Generally no but if the finger scanned is too dry, the quality of the images may not be sufficient to create a suitable template. This is rare but the result will be a "false reject" which means the system falsely rejects you. All you'll need to do is breathe on your finger or rub your fingers together to provide moisture and try again.

So you can see biometric technology is quite advanced. The systems are already quite accurate and difficult to fool. And as with most emerging technologies, biometric systems are advancing at a rapid rate so get used to them. It may not be long until you have a biometric security system installed in your home.

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Robert Andrew
Robert Andrew

Thomas Boggo is a freelance writer specializing in emerging technologies. You can read more articles on Biometric Technology & Biometric Security Systems at

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