Yes! Passwords are soon going to become a part of computing folklore! Biometrics will soon replace them as a means of controlling access to valuable information!
- The uniqueness of our fingerprints, retina, iris and various other biometric features.
- Devices and applications which scan and process biometric features in real-time will allow all kinds of access control to be enabled using biometrics.
- Read on to discover what is meant by biometric access control and how it is going to be used in all walks of life.
What is biometric access control?
Biometric access control is restricting access based on unique biometric features of an individual. Biometric features such as fingerprints, iris patterns, retinal patterns, gait of a person, facial structure are all unique for a person.
Some popular fingerprint access control systems offered by Bayometric:
A biometric access control system is a computerized system which does the following –
- Scans one or more biometric features of the subject
- Matching the feature(s) against a database of pre-enrolled set of candidates
- Checking whether there’s a match and if so allowing access.
Of all biometric systems, fingerprint based biometric access control systems are most feasible for implementation, from both technical and economical perspectives. These systems have gained acceptance in most places with high-security requirements, including banks and hospitals.
Biometric systems are personalized and multi-layered, making valuable data secure against attacks.
The impending ubiquity of biometric access control systems
From being the hallmark of intelligence agencies, biometrics has found application in every walk of life today. Today, most commercial organizations –from corporate offices to hospitals, from research labs to clubs—which feel the need to restrict access in their premises have embraced biometric access control.
The above quote aptly captures how biometric access control is going to permeate into all walks of life. Advancements in the field of biometric technology means that biometric features can now be captured quickly, processed unobtrusively, with a high degree of acceptance. Let us take a look few application areas and try to understand how biometric access will completely change the way we approach access control systems.
Biometric access control systems in airports
Airport security systems have witnessed a gradual but controlled shift towards biometric access control systems over the past few years. These changes are being brought in to strengthen airline assets, airports and passenger security especially in the light of rising security threats.
The new biometric security system will use biometric data to confirm the identity of passengers. Fingerprint based access control with its high degree of reliability and ease of use is the most popular airport security system available. However, other biometric security systems like retinal scans and facial patterns are also steadily gaining ground.
Heathrow airport carried out a trial study to test the feasibility of a new biometric access control system. The system was designed to check the passenger’s detail against various intelligence databases and watch lists before allowing them to embark on the flight. The trial used fingerprint and iris scans to screen more than 3000 passengers travelling to and from Dubai and Hong Kong.
In the initial stage of the trial the subjects were enrolled into the biometric system. Their biometric features such as 10 fingerprints, two iris images and a facial scan which digitalized and then stored in Radio Frequency Identification Card (RFID). This card was compatible with fingerprint readers installed at the immigration barriers at Dubai, Heathrow and Hong Kong airports. At the time of flying, the trial system required the passenger to scan their passport and right index finger at the self-service kiosk before boarding the flight. Access was granted only after the passenger’s biometric details have been validated at the boarding gate.
The trial was deemed successful as air travelers in the UK gave their assent to a biometric security system after a four-month trial period at the Heathrow Airport. Contrary to expectations most of those enrolled into the program said that the system allowed faster journey times. On an average it took 7 minutes to enroll a traveler into the biometric system. The time taken by a passenger to clear the self-service border clearance gate was 17 seconds on an average. The validation was quick and efficient and more than 96 percent of the cases were processed within 30 seconds.
Biometric access control in gyms & fitness clubs
Gymnasiums and fitness centers typically follow a strict “members-only” policy. A biometric access control system provides more efficient means of admission regulation and attendance calculation than manual checking of membership cards or pen-and-paper signing in methods. It eliminates the chance of hardships being faced by a member in case the physical membership cards are lost or misplaced.
Fingerprint scanning is the most common mode of biometric access control at gyms and fitness clubs. Such systems typically use automated door lock systems using a combination of a pre-assigned unique membership number and a fingerprint scan to allow access. In most cases up to three scans of index finger are required. To rule out rejection of a scan due to injury inflicted to one hand, scans of both the left and right index are recorded. If a member wants to enter the gym all he needs to do is to place his finger on a fingerprint reader and upon acceptance of the fingerprint scan he has to enter the unique membership number. After evaluating both the scan and the number the access control system allows entry. The whole process takes less than a minute and saves valuable time for the member.
The newer fingerprint-based door lock systems even rule out possibilities of fingerprint hacking. Unlike traditional fingerprint readers, these systems do not match an entry with a pre-stored fingerprint impression. Instead, they simply measure the distance between certain ridges of a fingerprint and converts the information to a binary code. This binary code is then matched with a previously encrypted one. An increasing number of gyms and fitness clubs are ditching traditional access control measures to embrace the hassle-free and cost-effective biometric equivalents.
Biometric access control for enhanced security at media houses
Media personnel are usually privy to highly sensitive information which is for their eyes only. It is crucial that this information does not get leaked. The ideal way to secure this information is through the use of biometric access control systems.
Using biometric features like fingerprints and iris, these access control systems limit the exposure of sensitive data to authorized people. For example, a USB fingerprint scanner can be used to unlock the computer or the document locker when it identifies a correct fingerprint.
Besides offering protection, biometric access control systems make security measures extremely user-friendly. They mitigate the need to remember lengthy passwords and wait to pass through layers of security. Additionally, these access control systems can also be used for access monitoring purposes by integrating them with existing systems. These extended usages include time and attendance management systems, providing restricted physical access of risky assets to a group of users.
Biometric access based checkpoints at movie theatres
Biometrics can really streamline the moviegoers’ experience. Instead of carrying a physical ticket, reservations can be validated at entry points using USB fingerprint scanners. Post scan a moviegoer can be identified as an authentic purchaser of a ticket and automatically allowed entry through a turnstile. If a few friends decide to join him at the last minute, he may even use his fingerprints to buy their tickets at the venue. The fingerprint software would connect directly to his bank and book tickets automatically.
The convenience offered by USB fingerprint scanners would attract moviegoers by the hordes, which would easily recover the investment in biometric access control system. In addition, handling baggage safety shelves would become easier with the help of fingerprint software that is integrated with the fingerprint database. This takes away the need of distributing tokens or slips that may be easily misplaced.
Biometric access control systems will allow the theater owner to manage and keep records of all customers. This will lead to the creation of a strong customer interaction database for the owner. Such a database can be integrated with a customer relationship management (CRM) software to drive targeted campaigns and give special offers to the moviegoers.
Biometric access control is the future of access control
Most commercial organizations from corporate offices to hospitals, from research labs to clubs, which feel the need to restrict access in their premises, have embraced biometric access control.
The typical advantages of biometric access control systems over traditional access control mechanisms include –
- Possibility of manual error is eliminated
- Scanning take less than a minute and this saves valuable time for both authorities and the entrants
- Use of biometric access control reduces paper or plastic usage significantly and thus contributes to the cause of ecological conservation
With the above advantages, it is easy to visualize a future sans passwords. The age of biometric of access control is setting in slowly and surely!