It’s All About You

One thing users who are nervous about using fingerprint technology often don’t realize is that once their fingerprint is scanned for use in security applications, it is not saved. Only the specific pieces of data are stored, which are used to construct an algorithm.

If one were to conduct a survey of technology publications over the past decade or so, it’s a good bet there would be at least one instance in each of those years in which someone declared that “this is the year of biometrics.”

Full of promise but long constrained by a diverse set of obstacles, biometrics – or the use of body or physical characteristics for secure authentication and identification – has not yet lived up to the hype.

Yet, lest we let 2007 slip by without the required declaration, let it be know that, indeed, this may well be the year biometrics takes hold on a broader scale, particularly its uses in security applications.

Widely Varying Attitudes

Biometrics is a very sexy technology – the challenge is having a workable, cost-effective system. The opportunity cost can be high, because money could always be spent on other, more proven technologies.

The bottom line is, does it really enhance the customer experience enough to make them bother with it? Most folks are probably thinking, ‘I’m perfectly happy doing it the way I already do.’

Interestingly, those consumer attitudes toward biometric technology seem to be very culturally based, with acceptance rates much higher in some countries than in others. In places like Latin America, Europe and Africa, people don’t have this notion of Big Brother watching that Americans sometimes do, to them it’s just a convenience.

In the Enterprise

Enterprises are also increasingly making use of biometric technologies internally, particularly for access control. While current estimates cite adoption at less than 20 percent of corporations worldwide, the prediction is that in two to three years, that will increase closer to one third. Smart cards and one-time passwords, meanwhile, will reach about 50 percent adoption.

In the government, a personal identity verification system is currently being implemented that will require all federal workers and contractors who require unescorted access to present a smart card with a chip on it that includes two fingerprints. Once it’s in place, it is estimated that it will touch six million military staff and civilians.

Biometrics in the Future?

The market is definitely picking up. As the government implements more programs, people will become more comfortable and familiar with biometrics. It’s a pretty exciting time.

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