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Electronic surveillance: it's everywhere and it's growing.

170 surveillance cameras on one block! NYC now Camera City. In 2005, the NYCLU counted more than 4,000 street level cameras from the West Village down to Battery Park. The group also found that the 292 cameras along 125th Street in Central Harlem recorded nearly every movement on that busy street. "I would believe the number has dramatically increased" three years later, said Matt Faiella, staff attorney for the NYCLU. The cameras have myriad uses. The NYPD wants to install thousands to protect the city against terrorism. The NYPD's recently released plan to protect the city by installing some 3,000 additional cameras in the city raised concern at the NYCLU because it takes a new step in surveillance by creating a database of license plates and people's movements.        

Surveillance cameras mounted
 on top of a steel pole.

Face Scan

A computer that could recognize faces as readily as people can and would make the ideal aid for spotting and tracking known terrorists and criminals on streets or in transportation stations. But face-recognition systems aren't as reliable as law-enforcement officials would like. Identix (IDNX) and other suppliers are making steady progress. Identix says that, by combining the usual face scan with an inspection of pores and wrinkles in small blocks of skin, reliability is improved by at least 25%, to better than 90%.

Iris Scan

The Eyes Have It. Probably the most foolproof biometric measure is the eye's iris. Its complex pattern of zigzagging lines and random dots is much more distinctive than the whorls of a fingerprint. In fact, because authorities in a few foreign countries are confident that iris scans can't be circumvented, they're starting to allow airlines to use iris scanning at selected airports. If people register their iris scans, they can bypass the usual security check. Currently, a person's eye must be in close to the scanner. Intelligence and law-enforcement agencies hope that some way can be found to scan irises from a distance -- or even to spot a suspect in a crowd.

Peering Beneath the Skin

Like that of a fingerprint, the pattern of blood veins in the palm is unique to every individual. Unlike a fingerprint, however, the palm has a biometric pattern that is virtually impossible to duplicate. So Fujitsu developed a palm reader that checks the blood vessels under the skin -- and people don't even have to touch the device. That alleviates concerns about hygiene, especially in hospitals, where many people touch the same biometric sensors to gain access to a room or storage cabinet.

Prepare To Be Scanned

The Economist, Dec. 4th 2003

Biometrics: High-tech security systems that rely on detailed measurements of the human body, known as biometrics, are taking off. But should they be? IT HAS been a long time coming. But after years of false starts, security systems based on biometrics human characteristics such as faces, hand shapes and fingerprints are finally taking off. Proponents have long argued that because biometrics cannot be forgotten, like a password, or lost or stolen, like a key or an identity card, they are an ideal way to control access to computer networks, airport service-areas and bank vaults. But biometrics have not yet spread beyond such niche markets, for two main reasons. The first is the unease they can inspire among users. Many people would prefer not to have to submit their eyes for scanning in order to withdraw money from a cash dispenser. The second reason is cost: biometric systems are expensive compared with other security measures, such as passwords and personal identification numbers. So while biometrics may provide extra security, the costs currently outweigh the benefits in most cases. In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001, however, these objections have been swept aside. After all, if you are already being forced to remove your shoes at the airport, and submit your laptop for explosives testing, surely you will not object to having your fingers scanned too? The desire to tighten security in every way possible, particularly in America, also means the funds are being made available to deploy technology that was previously regarded as too expensive to bother with. As a result, biometrics are suddenly about to become far more widespread. America will begin using biometrics at its airports and seaports on January 5th. Under the new US-VISIT programme, all foreigners entering on visas will have their hands and faces digitally scanned. This will create what Tom Ridge, America's homeland-security supremo, calls an electronic check-in and check-out system for foreign nationals. American citizens will also be affected, as new passports with a chip that contains biometric data are issued from next year. And the new rules specify that by October 26th 2004, all countries whose nationals can enter America without a visa including western European countries, Japan and Australia must begin issuing passports that contain biometric data too. Moves to create a European standard for biometric passports are already under way, and many other countries are following suit: Oman and the United Arab Emirates, among others, will begin issuing national identity cards containing biometrics next year. Britain's planned new national identity card will also include biometrics. In other words, governments either do not believe that the costs of biometrics still outweigh any potential benefits or, more likely, fearing more terrorism they simply do not care. This could be an expensive choice. Recent reports from groups such as the General Accounting Office (GAO), the investigative arm of America's Congress, and America's National Academy of Science (NAS), point out that, while the political environment has changed, the technology has not. Biometrics still do not work well enough to be effective for many of the applications in which they are now being deployed. Even John Siedlarz, who co-founded the International Biometrics Industry Association to promote the sale and use of the technology, says that recent congressional requirements are premature in my view. Despite this concern from industry experts, politicians are keen to push onwards, and not only in America. Otto Schily, Germany's interior minister, recently declared his support for increased use of biometrics, asking: How else would you propose to improve security? Similarly, America's Justice Department responded to a recent GAO report by saying that the government is in a hurry to deploy biometrics so why couldn't the GAO just get on board? It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the chief motivation for deploying biometrics is not so much to provide security, but to provide the appearance of security. (This ends the first section of this article. The rest is continued here - Link to article)

Surveillance cameras

An overview of biometrics - (National Center for State Courts)      

Identification and verification have long been accomplished by showing something you have, such as a licence or a passport. Sometimes it also required something you know, such as a password or a PIN. As we move into a time when we need more secure and accurate measures, we begin to look at using something you are: biometrics.


Biometrics is the development of statistical and mathematical methods applicable to data analysis problems in the biological sciences.

The term "biometrics" is derived from the Greek words bio (life) and metric (to measure). For our use, biometrics refers to technologies for measuring and analyzing a person's physiological or behavioral characteristics, such as fingerprints, irises, voice patterns, facial patterns, and hand measurements, for identification and verification purposes.  [more about the history of biometrics]

Uses Of Biometrics
Biometrics are used in two major ways: Identification and Verification.

Identification is determining who a person is. It involves taking the measured characteristic and trying to find a match in a database containing records of people and that characteristic. This method can require a large amount of processing power and some time if the database is very large. It is often used in determining the identity of a suspect from crime scene information.

Verification is determining if a person is who they say they are. It involves taking the measured characteristic and comparing it to the previously recorded data for that person. This method requires less processing power and time, and is often used for accessing places or information.

How It Works:Biometric devices consist of a reader or scanning device, software that converts the gathered information into digital form, and a database that stores the biometric data for comparison with previous records. When converting the biometric input, the software identifies specific points of data as match points. The match points are processed using an algorithm into a value that can be compared with biometric data in the database.  [frequently asked questions]

Types of Biometrics

There are two types of biometrics: behavioral and physical. Behavioral biometrics are generally used for verification while physical biometrics can be used for either identification or verification.

Examples of physical biometrics include:

Examples of behavioral biometrics include:

The Army's Use of Biometrics

The Army can use biometric technology in many ways. During wartime, the Army's dependence on information as a tactical and strategic asset requires control over battlefield networks.  Logistics flows, weapon systems, and intelligence could benefit from biometric technology, particularly with the "Digitized Army" of the 21st Century.  During peacetime, the Army has to control access to secured facilities, computer and office systems, and classified information.  The Army also manages many huge human services that require efficiency, security, and convenience. Biometric technology could be used to improve these peacetime functions.  Given these potential applications, Congress appropriated $15 million for the Army to assess biometrics.

Identifying and Addressing Sociocultural Concerns

Recognizing that sociocultural factors strongly influence program success, the Army made it a priority to examine these issues.  Accordingly, Lieutenant General William Campbell, the Army's Chief Information Officer, asked researchers in RAND's Force Development and Technology Program in the Arroyo Center to address the social, legal, and ethical (sociocultural) implications of Army-mandated use of biometrics.  RAND staff worked closely with Mr. Phillip Loranger, the Director of the Army's Biometrics Office and his staff in the Office of the Secretary of the Army Director of Information Systems C4.

Research Questions and Key Findings

The RAND Biometric Team's approach included:

  • Assembling a multidisciplinary team
  • Reviewing the literature on biometric technology
  • Interviewing biometric program experts
  • Attending conferences
  • Developing hypotheses
  • Interviewing legal/ethics experts
  • Testing results in a workshop
The RAND team assessed the distinctiveness and intrusiveness of various biometric techniques, such as fingerprint, facial, speaker, and iris recognition.  They also identified three key sociocultural concerns: 1) information privacy, 2) physical privacy, and 3) religious objections. Biometrics also raise different concerns, such as the potential use of the technology to link medical predispositions, behavioral types, or other characteristics to particular biometric patterns.

How Should the Army Address These Concerns?

The team found that there are many privacy laws already in place, and the Army can rely on these existing regulations for a minimalist approach. The RAND team also proposed that the Army could pursue a broader, more integrated approach by:

  • Thoroughly justifying why biometrics are a viable solution to a particular problem
  • Structuring program and select technologies to minimize privacy concerns
  • Educating the Army community and public about the program purpose and structure, to allay concerns and generate support, and
  • Establishing an Army body to guide these procedures and ensure that concerns are adequately addressed throughout all stages of implementation.

Biometrics To Be Used On IDs.

Minnesota to Use Facial Recognition Technology on IDs -- State will add biometrics component to prevent fake driver's licenses

Pioneer Press via Knight Ridder

Minnesota soon will start using biometric face scans to prevent would-be crooks — and underage wannabe smokers and drinkers — from getting fake driver's licenses from the state. Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Thursday announced plans to add biometric facial recognition technology to driver's licenses as part of a broader effort to protect consumers from identity theft and unauthorized use of personal data. That effort will include stiffer criminal penalties for hackers and others who abuse access to personal data on computers. "Identity theft causes great trauma, inconvenience and damage to a lot of people and families," Pawlenty said at a Capitol news conference. He said the state must do more to crack down on identity thieves and strengthen safeguards for personal information. Driver's licenses are one of the state's most important forms of identification, he said, and biometric technology will help law enforcement officers ensure that individuals are who they say they are. The new technology would match an individual's driver's license photo with images in the state's database. Here's how Pawlenty's office described it: "Facial recognition technology converts an image into a mathematical computer algorithm as a basis for a positive match. It uses the structure of a person's face — such as width between the eyes, forehead depth and nose length — to assign mathematical points of reference creating a unique data file." The face scans will enable the state to detect people attempting to obtain licenses using the same photo with multiple names and birth dates, or the same name and birth date with multiple people's photos, said state Public Safety Commissioner Michael Campion. "The technology … will create a higher level of integrity for Minnesota's driver's licenses." Pawlenty said 13 other states use the technology, and it has proved "highly accurate." No new photos will be needed to develop the state's face-scan file. State workers will scan photos on current driver's licenses to create the new file. The new technology will cost about $1 to $2 per driver's license. Pawlenty said an $800,000 federal grant will offset these costs and that he will ask the 2006 Legislature to pay the rest. Although he believes he has the power to implement the new system on his own, he said he would ask the Legislature to approve it. For Minnesota retailers, the new technology means customers will be far less likely to try to use fake identification cards to make purchases, especially of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, said Steve Rush, board chairman of the Minnesota Retailers Association. Businesses will not have equipment to read the face scans, however; only the state will have that ability. The technology will not prevent counterfeiters from continuing to produce fake IDs. But it will help law enforcement officers detect them, said Scott Carr, a marketing executive for Digimarc, the company that makes the biometric system the state will use.

In addition to the face scans, Pawlenty said he will ask the Legislature to pass four other measures to protect personal data on computers and make it easier to prosecute hackers. 

The measures would:

• Make it a crime to use encryption to conceal a crime or the identity of another person who commits a crime.
• Increase criminal penalties for gaining unauthorized access to personal data through a computer.
• Authorize prosecution of hackers, even if they do not steal or destroy computer data.
• Establish a new crime for unauthorized disclosure of computer security information, such as passwords, if the person knows or has reason to believe it might be used to commit a crime.
"These are important steps that begin to modernize our identity theft laws in Minnesota," Pawlenty said.

Police advisory body installs 3D facial recognition system

Colin Holland
EE Times UK 

LONDON — The Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO) has awarded a contract to Premier Electronics, in alliance with A4 Vision and Global Securities, to install a real time 3D facial recognition technology. PITO, which provides information technology and communications systems and services to the police and other criminal justice organisations in the U.K., has selected the system to control access to its Biometrics Demonstration Laboratory at its headquarters. In addition to providing access control, it will be used for demonstrations to staff and stakeholders from across the police service and wider government, as well as for evaluation purposes. The A4 Vision Access 3D face reader system combines standard digital photography with real time 3D facial recognition, providing a very powerful recognition and identification system with the ability to also produce a standard digital photograph. The Vision Access 3D face reader is commonly used to control physical access to buildings, banks, hospitals, airports and other types of entry points for the commercial and Civil ID market. Geoff Whitaker, Head of Biometrics at PITO, said, "3D face recognition systems have the potential to provide a very effective means of controlling access as well as identifying suspects, and the installation of this state of the art technology at PITO's offices will offer us the opportunity to demonstrate its possible operational benefits to the police service." There are two parts to the A4 Vision Access 3D face reader, an enrolment station and an identification/verification unit. The enrolment unit provides both a colour digital picture of the subject and a 3D facial template; it is possible to combine these two formats to provide a 3D-face mask. The digital picture can also be used to generate identity cards and with a special printer holographic prints. The 3D template is taken in real time and requires only a few seconds to be registered; personal details of the subject can then be added to the template as required. The unit works in the near infrared so controlled lighting conditions are not required for the 3D template; up to 10,000 facial templates can be stored in this unit. The unit also supplies a 100Mb-ethernet connection to allow interfacing with remote identification/verification units and VA server. The other unit just acts as an identification/verification unit and is connected to the enrolment station via ethernet. Subjects walk up to the unit and either present a card and look into the LCD if working in the verification mode or just look into the LCD if in the identification mode. Pictures are captured between 20 and 60 frames per second giving identification and verification times at under one second.

U.K. cops look into face-recognition tech

Police force is investigating whether to add biometrics to a national database of mugshots it is building.  

By Steve Ranger
Special to CNET
Published: January 17, 2006, 11:00 AM PST

The U.K.'s police force is investigating how to incorporate facial-recognition software into a new national mugshot database so it can track down criminals faster.  The Police Information Technology Organization is already working on a Facial Images National Database (FIND) project to deliver a national mugshot database for law enforcement agencies in England, Scotland and Wales. It aims to create a database of stills and videos of facial images, marks, scars and tattoos that'll be linked to criminals' details on the Police National Computer. The first FIND pilot is planned for the first quarter of this year, with police forces in the north of England. Now the IT agency wants to look at the business case for the national introduction of face-recognition technology by police forces. The agency said it has awarded contracts to Aurora Computer Services to install its facial-recognition technology to provide demonstrations of the technology to the police service and other government agencies.

Australian state police eye fingerprint biometrics

Sandra Rossi

October 14, 2005
SYDNEY -- Police in the Australian state of New South Wales are set to introduce portable, handheld fingerprint scanners by the end of 2006.  Tenders are likely to be issued early next year with the proposal currently awaiting approval from the NSW Treasury. Static biometric devices, known as LiveScan, are already in use in NSW and Victorian Police stations, provided by French electronics company Sagem, which is a supplier to military organizations across the globe.  However, NSW police are keen to see the introduction of portable biometric devices that can be used during routine traffic infringements for on-the-spot identity checks.   The devices, showcased in Sydney at a recent launch of its new mobile phones, hold up to 100,000 fingerprints and are extremely light and rugged and ideal for law enforcement use, Sagem officials said.  A NSW Police spokesperson confirmed a submission has been made to the Treasury Department and if approved, a "tender document will be issued for all parties interested in providing a submission."  A Treasury spokesperson confirmed that the proposal is on the agenda, adding that portable fingerprint devices are "among a list of five or six priorities."  While NSW is keen to go ahead with portable biometrics, a spokesperson for the Victorian Police fingerprint branch ruled out its use at this stage.  Only last year the Victorian Police amended the Crimes Act 2004 to accommodate the use of static, LiveScan units in police stations across the state.
A spokesman for the Victorian Minister for Police, Timothy Holding, said the fixed fingerprint machines were introduced only last June, so there were no plans to extend their use outside of police stations.  The Queensland Police are introducing static LiveScan systems in mid-November and have no immediate plans for portable devices. The NSW Minister for Police, Carl Scully was unavailable for comment.  A spokesperson for Sagem said the portable LiveScan units are new to the market and not yet commercially available in Australia. The official said the devices will be available locally by the end of this year.  LiveScan technology also forms the basis of the federal law enforcement CrimTrac system, an automated fingerprint identification system. This is a central database of 2.4 million records and 180,000 prints from unsolved crime scenes, according to the CrimTrac Web site. Sagem won the $11.2 million contract in January 2000.

Alabama Grips Crime With NEC Palm and Fingerprint Identification System

October 18, 2006
Huntsville Police Department Becomes Second NEC AFIS Implementation in State With Automated Connectivity to the Alabama Bureau of Investigation

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif.-NEC Corporation of America, a premier provider of IT, network and telephony solutions, today announced the City of Huntsville, Alabama Police Department selected its Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) with palm print matching to dramatically enhance its ability to quickly and reliably identify crime-scene prints and match them to city and state databases.

"Beyond the obvious benefits of solving crimes and keeping impeccable records, the Huntsville Police Department will see tremendous cost savings associated with automated services like fingerprint and palm print record loading, accurate database builds, record forwarding and database searching, said Barry Fisher, vice president, Identification Solutions Division of NEC Corporation of America. "In addition, the Intuitive Graphical User Interface reduces the time required for training, and allows the user to quickly take advantage of all the features of the automated system."

The Huntsville Police Department joins the Mobile (AL) Police Department as the second Full Use Access Agencies (FUAA) AFIS in the State of Alabama with automated connectivity to the NEC AFIS located at the Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI) in Montgomery. The NEC AFIS installed at Huntsville Police Department is capable of automated input and search/match functions for both fingerprints and palm prints.

"The installation of NEC AFIS will enhance the way crime is fought and solved in Huntsville and the surrounding areas of Alabama," said Chief Rex Reynolds, Huntsville Police Department. "NEC exceeded our expectations with the resources, network and latent search capability that could automatically connect our system to the Alabama Bureau of Investigation AFIS."

The City of Huntsville Police Department NEC AFIS is pre-loaded with electronically-converted fingerprint images from the Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI) system, allowing the police department to immediately search known Huntsville records, and expand the search to the statewide database in the absence of matches at a local level. The system at ABI then automatically forwards Huntsville Police Department searches to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). ABI and the FBI then both send notification back to the Huntsville Police Department with an identification or non-identification response. This "quick start" functionality offered by the pre-loaded fingerprint images is enhanced by the system's ease of use, accuracy, and straightforward entry process. Additional functionality includes Livescan, Latent Print Enhancement sub-system, and interface to Criminal History System.

About NEC Corporation of America

NEC Corporation of America is a leading technology provider of IT, network and visual display solutions. Headquartered in Irving, Texas, NEC Corporation of America is the North America subsidiary of NEC Corporation (NASDAQ:NIPNY - News). NEC Corporation of America delivers technology and professional services ranging from server and storage solutions, digital presentation and visual display systems to biometric identification, IP voice and data solutions, optical network and microwave radio communications. NEC Corporation of America serves carrier, SMB and large enterprise clients across multiple vertical industries. For more information, please visit   Source: NEC Corporation of America 


Eye Scan Technology Comes to Schools

A New Jersey School District Is Piloting the System Phil Meara is superintendent of the New Jersey school district that is piloting the iris scan project.  (ABC NEWS)

Jan. 25, 2006 — Parents who want to pick up their kids at school in one New Jersey district now can submit to iris scans, as the technology that helps keep our nation's airports and hotels safe begins to make its way further into American lives.The Freehold Borough School District launched this high-tech, high-wattage security system on Monday with funding from the Department of Justice as part of a study on the system's effectiveness. As many as four adults can be designated to pick up each child in the district, but in order to be authorized to come into school, they will be asked to register with the district's iris recognition security and visitor management system. At this point, the New Jersey program is not mandatory.When picking up a child, the adult provides a driver's license and then submits to an eye scan. If the iris image camera recognizes his or her eyes, the door clicks open. If someone tries to slip in behind an authorized person, the system triggers a siren and red flashing lights in the front office. The entire process takes just seconds.

This kind of technology is already at work in airports around the country like Orlando International Airport, where the program, known as Clear, has been in operation since July. It has 12,000 subscribers who pay $79.95 for the convenience of submitting to iris scans rather than going through lengthy security checks. An iris scan is said to be more accurate than a fingerprint because it records 240 unique details — far more than the seven to 24 details that are analyzed in fingerprints. The odds of being misidentified by an iris scan are about one in 1.2 million and just one in 1.44 trillion if you scan both eyes. It's a kind of biometrics, the technique of identifying people based on parts of their body. Phil Meara, Freehold's superintendent, said that although it was expensive, the program would help schools across the country move into a new frontier in child protection. "This is all part of a larger emphasis, here in New Jersey, on school safety," he said. "We chose this school because we were looking for a typical slightly urban school to launch the system." Meara applied for a $369,000 grant on behalf of the school district and had the eye scanners installed in two grammar schools and one middle school. So far, 300 of the nearly 1,500 individuals available to pick up a student from school have registered for the eye scan system.  "The price tag was high really due to the research and program development," Meara said. "We're all aware that at that price, this system couldn't be duplicated at other schools. But most of the money paid for the development. So my prediction is that in the future, the price of this system will be much lower." Meara said they were trying to deny entry to anyone who wasn't permitted in the building and ensure that when an adult came to take a child out of school, he or she was who they said they were. Meara was also involved with a pilot program that took place in 2003, in Plumstead Township in New Egypt, N.J. The superintendent found that teachers and parents often held the door open for others as they entered the school, which allowed strangers to slip right in behind.This new eye scan system, however, catches strangers. Once the iris scanner permits an individual to enter the school, it monitors how many people pass through the door. "Biometrics is the wave of the future," Meara said. "Everything I've heard is that there will be a tremendous emphasis on making schools as safe as possible. If our school process [shows] that this system works, yes, it might just take off."

Here's two examples of Biometric Companies

A Bay Area company backed by the Gordon P. Getty Family Trust and headed by former sees biometrics as key to secure transactions. These days, it seems everything from working out at the gym to picking up a gallon of milk at the local market requires a card -- or two. Fed up with fumbling around the bottom of a purse for plastic payment or flipping through a weighty wallet for store loyalty cards, consumers could embrace a new technology that puts purchasing power at their fingertips. That's the vision of Pay By Touch, founder John Rogers and IBM veteran John Morris. The company, which Mr. Rogers started in 2002, develops a biometric payment system that enables people to link their fingerprint to their bank or credit card account and leave their wallet at home. It is part of a revolution that is turning the human body into the ultimate identification card. The customer's e-wallet also includes information about loyalty programs, which allows customers to dump the numerous cards they've been using to access promotional deals at their favorite retailer. "Pay By Touch helps consumers simplify their lives and slim down their wallets," says Mr. Morris, who adds the technology appeals to merchants too. "Retailers are looking for ways to reduce the cost of processing transactions." Processing an automated clearinghouse debit from the customer's checking account costs pennies, compared to more costly credit or off-line debit transactions. A biometric approach is also more secure and faster, boosters say. "A paper check is handled by eight people before it is completely processed," says Mr. Morris. "Processing an express checking transaction through Pay By Touch exposes a checking account number to only one person before it is finished being processed." Pay By Touch claims the technology reduces checkout time by 30 percent.

Pay By Touch

Argus Solutions specialises in providing identity management applications and solutions. The products are built with a range of identity management technologies in mind, ranging from top end biometric solutions such as iris recognition, DNA matching, face recognition technologies through to proximity and contact cards. Some of the largest biometric applications in Australia are delivered and supported by Argus Solutions. The diversity of options they provide to a client is due in part to the close relationship Argus has with its partners. Their key operational partnership is with US company Imageware Systems Inc (IWS) ( More about this relationship can be found on our partners page. Imageware allows us to deliver solutions such as the face recognition system to NSW Police. NSW Police in Sydney, Australia are now deploying this product throughout Local Area and Specialist Commands. That the Argus product set is complemented by IWS technologies means Argus is able to integrate two or more biometric technologies in the one solution/application, and to integrate biometrics with other security related tokens such as cards and RFID tags. 

Argus Solutions 


In information technology, biometric authentication refers to technologies that measure and analyze human physical and behavioural characteristics for authentication purposes. Examples of physical characteristics include fingerprints, eye retinas and irises, facial patterns and hand measurements, while examples of mostly behavioural characteristics include signature, gait and typing patterns. Voice is considered a mix of both physical and behavioural characteristics. However, it can be argued that all biometric traits share physical and behavioural aspects.   Biometrics   Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Imagine you're James Bond, and you have to get into a secret laboratory to disarm a deadly biological weapon and save the world. But first, you have to get past the security system. It requires more than just a key or a password -- you need to have the villain's irises, his voice and the shape of his hand to get inside. You might also encounter this scenario, minus the deadly biological weapon, during an average day on the job. Airports, hospitals, hotels, grocery stores and even Disney theme parks increasingly use biometrics -- technology that identifies you based on your physical or behavioral traits -- for added security.   How Biometrics Work  How Stuff Works

Computerized fingerprint scanners have been a mainstay of spy thrillers for decades, but up until recently, they were pretty exotic technology in the real world. In the past few years, however, scanners have started popping up all over the place -- in police stations, high-security buildings and even on PC keyboards. You can pick up a personal USB fingerprint scanner for less than $100, and just like that, your computer's guarded by high-tech biometrics. Instead of, or in addition to, a password, you need your distinctive print to gain access.   How Fingerprint Scanners Work   How Stuff Works

A ticket to Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa Bay, Florida, didn't just get you a seat at the biggest professional football game of the year. Those who attended the January 2000 event were also part of the largest police lineup ever conducted, although they may not have been aware of it at the time. The Tampa Police Department was testing out a new technology, called FaceIt, that allows snapshots of faces from the crowd to be compared to a database of criminal mugshots.   How Facial Recognition Systems Work   How Stuff Works

Your voice is unique because of the shape of your vocal cavities and the way you move your mouth when you speak. To enroll in a voiceprint system, you either say the exact words or phrases that it requires, or you give an extended sample of your speech so that the computer can identify you no matter which words you say. When people think of voiceprints, they often think of the wave pattern they would see on an oscilloscope. But the data used in a voiceprint is a sound spectrogram, not a wave form. A spectrogram is basically a graph that shows a sound's frequency on the vertical axis and time on the horizontal axis. Different speech sounds create different shapes within the graph. Spectrograms also use colors or shades of grey to represent the acoustical qualities of sound. This tutorial has a lot more information on spectrograms and how to read them.   How Biometric Systems Work - More Biometric Systems  How Stuff Works

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