It’s been a while since biometric security devices were the preserve of science fiction. Today, biometrics is playing an ever-more central role in real-world identity verification services.

Biometric technologies have been applied increasingly in many consumer markets as it has become cheaper and more easily accessible. For example fingerprint scanners are becoming more common on laptops and mobile devices, while cash machines in some parts of the world are now drawing upon iris recognition.

It seems that biometrics is effectively replacing passwords. But how has the field developed into what it is today, and what can we expect from future identity verification services?

Different biometric methods and how they have evolved

There are two broad classifications of biometric data: behavioural and physiological. Examples of the former technology include in relation to typing rhythm, gait and voice.

Physiological biometric technologies, meanwhile, rely on such things that human beings are born with as patterns in their hands and eyes, as well as specific scents or genetic markers.

Facial recognition is another example of a physiological biometric method. It involves the comparison of facial features from a chosen image or video source to catalogued database entries. The technology dates back to pioneering work by Woody Bledsoe, Helen Chan Wolf and Charles Bisson in 1964.

Palm and fingerprint technologies work similarly, on the basis of the uniquely identifying markings on the human palm and finger. The first use of such technology is thought to have been in 1892.

Finally, when viewed up close, the human iris also incorporates its own network of random patterns that are unique to each individual. John Daugman developed the first algorithms for identifying iris patterns with the aid of a computer in the mid-1990s. However, the science behind such technology can be traced back to ancient Egypt and Greece.

What looms ahead for identity verification services?

Firms are continuing to adopt biometrics and enhance their existing identity verification services. Some concerns do persist, however, with regard to such matters as privacy and the sharing of data especially in cases where government are involved.

Concerns are also often expressed about the lack of a working protocol on what biometrics information is appropriate to share, and with whom.

Putting the right checks in place for the collection, use and sharing of such data will therefore be vital as identity verification services steadily gain in sophistication. We are proud here at SmilePass to play a leading role in providing frictionless digital identity software, find out how we do it and why here.

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