by January 21, 2013 0 comments

Q: What are some of the latest innovations in biometrics technology?
Kendall: There have been several innovations in the field of biometrics in recent years. For one, we have increasingly sophisticated mobile fingerprint readers such as sub-dermal fingerprint readers, which read patterns of blood vessels or tissue beneath the fingerprint, making identity management more accurate and secure. Recent work in the area of facial recognition is also overcoming sensitivity to image quality (lighting, angle, resolution, obstructions). Latest technologies are related to 3D facial recognition; individuals can be identified as they walk past the sensor. The technology is equipped with a 3D vision system similar to human beings. It creates a 3D human face based on the dimensions and measurements taken by the sensor and matches it with the templates available in the database within three to four seconds. 

The next big growth area for biometrics is in the area of Logical Access Control Solutions (LACS) – particularly with mobile devices. Today’s smartphones are able to capture voice, face, and even hand geometry biometrics without resorting to add-on scanners or other peripherals. In the future, tablets can be used for security clearance in organizations, as they can capture enough physical information to authorize personnel.

Q: What are the major benefits biometrics brings to SMBs?
Kendall: For enterprises, particularly SMBs, that face challenges with budget constraints, resource management and protecting their assets, biometrics solutions can prove extremely beneficial and cost effective in securing their IP and infrastructure, identity management, access control, and employee attendance management. For instance, while resource management is a key function of any organization, it assumes even greater importance for an SMB given that the bottom line is tied directly to employee attendance and productivity. Additionally, while misuse of data due to data breaches or identity theft can prove to have dire consequences for large enterprises, they can prove absolutely devastating for an SMB. Hence, biometrics technologies, which provide one of the strongest and most accurate forms of authentication, can prove extremely useful for SMBs in ensuring cost effective, foolproof security of their sensitive systems, data, and resources. Organizations today are moving from biometric “point solutions” (i.e, standalone biometric solutions to perform a single function) to integrated enterprise biometric solutions that can support multiple applications.  The emergence of biometric frameworks (such as the Unisys’ Library of Electronic Identification Artifacts) makes the implementation of such enterprise biometric solutions faster, cheaper, and easier. Additionally, facial recognition technology can assist SMB retailers develop a demographic profile of their clientele so that products, product placement and product advertising can be optimally aligned with their target market.  For example, a CCTV camera coupled with facial recognition analytics can be used to determine the age and gender of individuals who study a product or product advertisement.

Q: What are the challenges for biometrics adoption in India?
Kendall: The biometrics market in India has been growing at a rapid pace, mainly driven by the adoption of these technologies in large-scale government projects including national ID projects (AADHAAR/UID). Some of the main challenges associated with scaling up the technology in India relates to the implementation of biometrics at a grassroots level. These challenges include huge demographic variability across the country, climatic variability impacting the field devices and collection processes, difficult geography, lack of availability of networks or Internet connectivity in several parts of the country, disconnected agencies, need for multi-lingual capabilities, maintenance of standard formats for data, and misuse of data, among others. 

Q: Aren’t there ethical implications of biometrics(like invasion of privacy)?
Kendall: The threat of misuse of data due to security breaches, data integrity loss, or identity theft and the severe consequences it entails can undermine user trust and acceptance. Further, biometric technologies can be perceived as being intrusive or even carry a “criminal” connotation as in the case of fingerprint collection, which further impacts user acceptance. It is important that organizations considering the use of biometrics ensure the biometric data is being adequately protected against loss, unauthorised access or misuse.  Organizations also need to consult with their employees to address their concerns about privacy of their biometrics. In addition to the actual technology, clear communication with stakeholders is key to successful adoption of biometric solutions.  People need to understand what problem the biometric solution is designed to address (i.e. the benefit to them) as well as where their data will be stored and for how long, how it will be protected, as well who will have access to it and for what purpose.


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