Biometrics - more than just image recognition

May 2002 Access Control & Identity Management

Touted as an established and serviceable means of user authentication, the field of biometrics is starting to create its own little buzz in amongst the drive to make identification procedures more convenient, safer and easier to use. But, on its own biometrics is nothing short of useless.

"Without some parameters that define area and circumstance, and some indication of the status of real-world events, the massive opportunity for viable applications may not be realised," says John Harris, MD of local software development company, Trac-Ware. Harris believes image recognition has some inherent problems, so much so that a significant percentage of alarms generated by current biometrics systems are false. "If you do not have full frontal recognition the entire system can be thrown off. This effectively compromises its integrity, rendering it incapable of making trustworthy decisions."

Using active IR scanners to scan for multiple sources of body heat linked to active RfId and a valid biometric will guarantee a valid identification, but any given profile has to tie into a set of real-world events to be of any significance. Biometrics as a means of access control, in conjunction with active RfId needs to rely on a management platform that ties applications and policies together across interfaces in one central location. "What is required when implementing biometrics processes is also the ability to handle the task of managing and monitoring dissimilar software and hardware components.

"The seamless integration of various types of hardware into a system, as well as the system's ability to easily create complex transactions based on the various types of connected hardware will allow users to monitor and control assets or people, and automate buildings and their responses to events with both ease and speed," Harris says.

The ability of a system to seamlessly link together rules and rule sets, ranging from zone control, access control to state control and movement limitations, will ensure that almost any scenario can be dealt with. But the 'real world' also needs to be monitored, with realtime updates of events sent to a database via the communications infrastructure in place.

"Biometrics, as it stands, provides fingerprint, face or eye scans which form just one piece of the puzzle, offering little more than a single point of defence. Biometrics, according to IDC, could find its strongest role as a complementary component of a multifactor authentication system," Harris concludes.

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