Biometrics recognition is a process in which a biometrics system compares incoming information with data in its system to determine whether or not it can find a match. If it does, it is said to have “recognized” the person it is analyzing. This technology is used in security systems all over the world, from facial recognition software at airports to fingerprint scanners at amusement parks.
The field of biometrics relies on the fact that many humans have distinctive and unique traits which can be used to distinguish them from other humans, acting as a form of identification. A number of traits can be used for biometrics. Fingerprints are one of the oldest examples, as everyone on Earth appears to have a unique set of fingerprints at any given time. The irises of the eye are also distinctive, as are faces.
With a biometrics system, sophisticated processing software can be taught to identify specific individuals, and when someone approaches the system, it can determine whether or not the person is someone familiar. For example, if a laboratory decides to control access to an area with fingerprinting, a list of authorized personnel would be generated and their fingerprints would be entered into the biometrics system. Any time one of these people wanted to enter the restricted area, she or he would have to present a finger to the biometrics system so that it could run the fingerprint against its database in a biometrics recognition process.
The process of biometrics recognition is not foolproof. Sometimes, a small variation causes the system to reject someone, even when that person is in the system. For example, if facial recognition is used and someone experiences a change to the face like a poorly healed broken nose, plastic surgery, or swelling due to injury, biometrics recognition may fail. Conversely, sometimes it is possible to trick a system, a common plot device in spy movies.
The goal of biometrics authentication is to control access to or passage through a particular area. A good system can be costly, which means that people must weigh the cost of alternative security methods when deciding whether or not to use biometrics. One advantage to biometrics is that it can act as a gatekeeper, eliminating the need for a human guard. This can increase security, as guards can be overcome, bribed, or tricked. However, it also means that obvious measures used to trick the biometrics recognition system will pass unnoted unless a human observer happens to be present.