Biometric Devices

Biometrics is the science of recognizing a human being based on their physical or behavioral traits. Biometric devices are any devices that scan one or more physical aspects of a human being for the purpose of identification.

Biometric devices come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of sophistication. The purpose of these devices is usually to act as a gatekeeper to access – that is to say, they identify a person based on physical characteristics to signal some other system (such as a locking mechanism) to provide access. Biometric systems are the proverbial doorman checking everyone out before providing access.

Biometric devices may scan for only one physical or behavioral trait or many. For instance, a computer may have a biometric fingerprint scanner attached. The user who wants access to the computer must place his or her finger on the scanner for verification. The device scans the fingerprint and matches against other fingerprints in its database. This process is not much different than when login software checks an entered password against passwords in its database to determine if the person should have access, only a biometrics system uses pattern recognition – it is matching a scan a fingerprint of the person who currently wants access with those in its database. If it finds a match, it will let the person in to the system.

Other kinds of more sophisticated Biometric devices may scan for more than one physical. An example might be a fingerprint scanner combined with a retinal scanner. The biometric device would scan the person’s fingerprint and match it in its database then have the person put their eye up to a camera and take a picture of the retina. The retina, like a fingerprint, is unique to the individual. The system would take the pattern of the retina and match it with patterns in its database. If both the fingerprint and the retina patterns match, Biometric devices then send a signal to another system to provide the access requested.