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Fingerprint scanners may become a thing of the past due to the pandemic. What will replace them?

Fingerprint scanners may become a thing of the past due to the pandemic. What will replace them?

In recent years, various forms of biometric identification have become, perhaps, the most reliable means of determining and confirming a person's identity. Continuing to improve, biometric technologies are increasingly penetrating into our daily life.

Without even noticing it, we encounter them several times a day, using a fingerprint scanner to access the workplace, unlock the phone or open the door.

The growth of the popularity of biometric identification technologies has been facilitated by the fact that they are economical, individual and easy to use, and at a relatively low cost provide a high level of security. Biometric data cannot be lost or forgotten, and biometric features are difficult to copy, share and distribute. Although it should be noted that at the time of identification, the presence of a person is necessary.

One of the first forms of biometric systems was fingerprint scanning. Already in the 19th century, it was used in one form or another to verify identity. In modern conditions, this is a type of biometrics, when fingerprints are compared and checked digitally.

However, despite the ubiquity of fingerprint scanning, other forms of biometric identity verification, including iris recognition, face or voice recognition, are becoming more common and are well accepted by consumers. Also, access control and management systems (ACS) using identification technology based on the pattern of the veins of the palm are becoming increasingly widespread. This method consists in reading the location of the subcutaneous veins on the palm using an infrared scanner. The leader in the use of vascular scanning is Japan, where it is widely used in medicine and the banking sector.

Along with the appearance of the COVID-19 coronavirus infection pandemic, a lot has changed in the life of mankind. The pandemic has not only changed the way we work, relax and travel, but also made adjustments to the development of the biometrics market. Together with the transition to distance learning and remote working, caused by restrictive measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, the process of gradually abandoning fingerprint scanners in favor of contactless methods of confirming identity began. Such technologies not only reduce the risk of coronavirus infection due to the absence of direct contact with the scanner, but also have certain advantages, as well as their own specifics.

In some countries, this technology is used in border control access control systems, and it is now increasingly used in the consumer market to unlock mobile devices. Recognition by the retina of the eye has also found application — this method uses a unique pattern of the blood vessels of the fundus as an identifier.

And yet, the most popular technology currently uses facial recognition, which has found application in various spheres of human life. Authentication systems based on it differ from competing technologies by a more affordable price and ease of installation, and they can be easily deployed at any scale.

The facial recognition technology allows you to form and compare a bio-template much faster than when scanning fingerprints and subcutaneous veins on the palm of your hand. Algorithms for facial recognition are constantly being improved, reducing the percentage of errors to a minimum, and the technology itself is becoming more and more «checked» and easy to implement.

At the same time, there are growing concerns in society about possible abuses associated with its use, which carry the risk of violating people's right to confidentiality. If these issues are resolved at the legislative level, then, undoubtedly, this technology has great prospects.

Table of comparison of biometric identification methods by various factors:

Fingerprint Face Recognition The iris of the eye The retina of the eye Drawing of the veins of the palm
Contactless identification Unsuccessful At a great distance At a great distance Impossible At a small distance
User comfort Low High High Low Medium
Cost Low Medium High High Medium
Sensitivity to the influence of external factors High High Medium High Medium
Prevalence High High Medium Low Low
The key factor influencing identification Contamination of the reader Lighting Lighting Glasses Injury

You can learn even more about biometrics, comparing algorithms and current trends in this area at the RecFaces webinars, leaving a request at this link.

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