Biometrics refers to an automated system that can identify an individual by measuring their physical and behavioral uniqueness or patterns, and comparing it to those on record. In other words, instead of requiring personal identification cards, magnetic cards, keys or passwords, biometrics can identify fingerprints, face, iris, palm prints, signature, DNA, or retinas of an individual for easy and convenient verification. With the boom in Internet-based business and the increased need for accurate verification when accessing accounts, biometrics is the simplest and most convenient the solution. Its universal, unique, permanent and measurable features ensures security of information in E-commerce, such as on-line banking and shopping malls. Biometrics can also provide you with convenience and security, by enabling a machine to verify the individual by itself and to respond to the individual's requests. Through the use of such physical controls as access control, and punch card maintenance, user restrictions on certain apparatus can be made possible with an automated verification system.
Biometric characteristics can be divided in two main classes, as represented in figure on the right: physiological are related to the shape of the body. The oldest traits, that have been used for more than 100 years, are fingerprints. Other examples are face recognition, hand geometry and iris recognition. behavioral are related to the behavior of a person. The first characteristic to be used, still widely used today, is the signature. More modern approaches are the study of keystroke dynamics and of voice.
Facial biometrics is one of the fastest growing areas of biometrics. With growing technologies facial recognition can convert a photograph or a video image into a code that describes a face's physical characterizes. This can be used to identify the common person from a distance, without intruding into their personal space. Computer software for facial identification reads the peaks and valleys of an individual's facial features; these peaks and valleys are known as nodal points. There are 80 nodal points in a human face, but the software needs only 15-20 to make an identification. Specialists concentrate on the golden triangle region between the temples and the lips. This area of the face remains the same even if hair and a beard is grown, weight is gained, aging occurs, or glasses are put on.
A fingerprint is made of a a number of ridges and valleys on the surface of the finger. Ridges are the upper skin layer segments of the finger and valleys are the lower segments. The ridges form so-called minutia points: ridge endings (where a ridge end) and ridge bifurcations (where a ridge splits in two). Many types of minutiae exist, including dots (very small ridges), islands (ridges slightly longer than dots, occupying a middle space between two temporarily divergent ridges), ponds or lakes (empty spaces between two temporarily divergent ridges), spurs (a notch protruding from a ridge), bridges (small ridges joining two longer adjacent ridges), and crossovers (two ridges which cross each other). The uniqueness of a fingerprint can be determined by the pattern of ridges and furrows as well as the minutiae points. There are five basic fingerprint patterns: arch, tented arch, left loop, right loop and whorl. Loops make up 60% of all fingerprints, whorls account for 30%, and arches for 10%. Fingerprints are usually considered to be unique, with no two fingers having the exact same dermal ridge characteristics.
Hand geometry is a biometric that identifies users by the shape of their hands. Hand geometry readers measure a user's hand along many dimensions and compare those measurements to measurements stored in a file. Viable hand geometry devices have been manufactured since the early 1980s, making hand geometry the first biometric to find widespread computerized use. It remains popular; common applications include access control and time-and-attendance operations.
Iris recognition is a method of biometric authentication that uses pattern recognition techniques based on high-resolution images of the irides of an individual's eyes. Not to be confused with another less prevalent ocular-based technology, retina scanning, iris recognition uses camera technology, and subtle IR illumination to reduce specular reflection from the convex cornea to create images of the detail-rich, intricate structures of the iris. These unique structures converted into digital templates, provide mathematical representations of the iris that yield unambiguous positive identification of an individual. Iris recognition efficacy is rarely impeded by glasses or contact lenses. Iris technology has the smallest outlier (those who cannot use/enroll) group of all biometric technologies. The only biometric authentication technology designed for use in a one-to many search environment, a key advantage of iris recognition is its stability, or template longevity as, barring trauma, a single enrollment can last a lifetime.
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) Biometrics could be the most exact form of identifying any given individual (Baird, S., 2002). Every human being has its own individual map for every cell made, and this map, or 'blueprint' as it more often is called, can be found in every body cell. Because DNA is the structure that defines who we are physically and intellectually, unless an individual is an identical twin, it is not likely that any other person will have the same exact set of genes (Philipkoski, K., 2004). DNA can be collected from any number of sources: blood, hair, finger nails, mouth swabs, blood stains, saliva, straws, and any number of other sources that has been attached to the body at some time. DNA matching has become a popular use in criminal trials, especially in proving rape cases (Landers, E., 1992). The main problems surrounding DNA biometrics is that it is not a quick process to identify someone by their DNA. The process is also a very costly one (Baird, S., 2002). DNA Biometrics is not a fool proof method of identification. If forensic scientists to not conduct a DNA test properly, a person's identification code can be skewed. Another problem is matching prior DNA samples to new samples; this is a bigger problem in DNA fingerprinting.
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