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Why Biometrics?   |    Classification of biometrics   |    Issues

  :: Why Biometrics?
Biometrics authenticates and determines an individual's identity by utilizing the uniqueness of his or her biological and behavioral characteristics. Other authentication methods often used are PIN method and Token (ID Card) method. Biometrics is superior to PIN or Token methods in the following ways:
1) Increased Security
Biometrics offers superior security than PIN or ID Card. Biometric methods do not involve danger of information exposure like PIN and ID Card do and unauthorized persons cannot attempt to steal or make a guess at private information.
2) Increased Convenience
Today, people have to remember many passwords. They should be able to provide their passwords whenever they use their credit cards or log into various sites on the Internet. Uniform passwords can lead to serious dangers if exposed. However, biometrics does not require us to remember our passwords.
 :: Classification of Biometrics
Biometrics can be classified according to the type of biometric data used, e.g., face, iris, voice, signature, or hand geometry identification. However, all these methods take the same authentication process. The biometric authentication process is as described below:
Among all available biometric technologies, fingerprint identification is the most popular one. This is due to the fact that fingerprint identification is far more efficient than others, especially considering how economical it is.
::  Issues
1) Standardization
Active efforts are being made to standardize various core biometric technologies mainly available in the U.S. and Europe. Major standardization methods for biometric identifications are as follows:
This standard was developed by I/O Software in 1998. Being O/S, computer platform, and sensor device independent, it was designed to support the development of applications. Some of the features include the unification of encryption method, standardized programming environment, and support for the client-server applications.
This method was first introduced in December 1997 at the 10th U.S. Biometric Consortium held by National Registry Inc. a company sponsored by the U.S. Ministry of National Defense. Thinking that biometrics would be useful in computer security, the U.S. Ministry of National Defense supported the development. However, they failed to secure companies to work on the project.
c) BioAPI
Compaq was the first company to form BioAPI Consortium, which consisted of 6 companies with a goal to standardize industrial biometric identification API in April 1998. In December of the same year, and in March the following year, BAPI and HA-API were included in new BioAPI. BioAPI Consortium was constituted by various groups, including 78 companies who are biometric identification developers and medical/financial/ governmental users. BioAPI has recently been adopted as ANSI/INCITS 358, American standard.
2) Multimodal Biometrics
There has been heated researches made to have multimodal biometrics be a method that overcomes the limitations of unimodal biometric technologies. Multimodal biometrics is recommended as a way to improve user authentication through biometrics of greater reliability.
a) Multiple Sensors
A single biometric feature can be extracted through different sensors. For instance, we can use optics-, ultrasound-, and semiconductor-based sensors.
b) Multiple Biometrics
A number of biometric features can be captured simultaneously for authentication. For example, facial and fingerprint identification can be used at the same time. However, this method is not recommended due to its high cost.
c) Multiple Units of the Same Biometric
Various units can be used for one biometric feature. Multiple units can often be provided by natural human physical structure such as through the user's two irises and ten fingerprints. A disadvantage to this method is that it can make a user uncomfortable when capturing his or her biometric feature samples. The process can also take a long time.
d) Multiple Instances
This means that pieces of biometric information of one feature are taken at different instances by one sensor. One example of this method is to capture a fingerprint a number of times with a sensor or to sample a voice or a face multiple times for later use.
e) Multiple Representation and Matching Algorithms for the Same Biometric Input Signal
Multimodal biometrics requires more time to work with the information and develop an appropriate system than a unimodal biometrics does since several modules are put in use. For that reason, if a unimodal method can assure the users of high enough dependability in a given circumstance, it may not be necessary to employ a multimodal biometric method. If the greatest degree of reliability is required, however, it may become necessary to adopt a multimodal biometric method in order to ensure any possible advancement.
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