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What is “Biometrics”?

What is “biometrics”?

Biometrics is a general term used alternatively to describe a characteristic or a process. As a characteristic: a biometric is a measurable biological (anatomical and physiological) and behavioral characteristic that can be used for automated recognition. As a process: a biometric is an automated method of recognizing an individual based on measurable biological (anatomical and physiological) and behavioral characteristics.

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What are the common biometrics?

Biometrics commonly implemented or studied include fingerprint, face, iris, voice, signature, and hand geometry. Many other modalities are in various stages of development and assessment.

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Which biometric technology is the best?

There is not one biometric modality that is best for all implementations. Many factors must be taken into account when implementing a biometric device including location, security risks, task (identification or verification), expected.

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How are biometrics collected?

Biometrics are typically collected using a device called a sensor. These sensors are used to acquire the data needed for recognition and to convert the data to a digital form. The quality of the sensor used has a significant impact on the recognition results. Example “sensors” could be digital cameras (for face recognition) or a telephone (for voice recognition).

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What are biometric templates?

A biometric template is a digital representation of an individual’s distinct characteristics, representing information extracted from a biometric sample. Biometric templates are what are actually compared in a biometric recognition system. Templates can vary between biometric modalities as well as vendors. Not all biometric devices are template based. For example, voice recognition is based on “models.”

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What is the difference between recognition, verification and identification?

Recognition is a generic term, and does not necessarily imply either verification or identification. All biometric systems perform “recognition” to “again know” a person who has been previously enrolled.

Verification is a task where the biometric system attempts to confirm an individual’s claimed identity by comparing a submitted sample to one or more previously enrolled templates.

Identification is a task where the biometric system attempts to determine the identity of an individual. A biometric is collected and compared to all the templates in a database. Identification is “closed-set” if the person is known to exist in the database. In “open-set” identification, sometimes referred to as a “watchlist,” the person is not guaranteed to exist in the database. The system must determine whether the person is in the database.

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Where are biometric technologies currently being deployed?

Biometrics are being used in many locations to enhance the security and convenience of the society. Example deployments within the United States Government include the FBI’s IAFIS, the US-VISIT program, the Transportation Workers Identification Credentials (TWIC) program, and the Registered Traveler (RT) program. These deployments are intended to strengthen the security and convenience in their respective environments. Many companies are also implementing biometric technologies to secure areas, maintain time records, and enhance user convenience. For example, for many years Disney World has employed biometric devices for season ticket holders to expedite and simplify the process of entering its parks.

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Can I interact with a biometric device without touching something?

This depends on the specific modality being used. For example, with today’s current technology, an individual would be required to touch a fingerprint sensor for the system to obtain the biometric sample, whereas face imaging for face recognition and iris imaging for iris recognition are contactless and would not require the user to touch the system.

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What if my biometric does not work?

On any biometric system, secondary procedures need to be implemented. It is important to remember that biometrics are a component of an overall system architecture, and contingency plans will vary from application to application.

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