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The body biometric.


WITH THE ADVENT OF the microprocessor, high technology has branched out to the world of applications. No longer is the computer industry the only industry with rapidly advancing technology. Today's security products, using microelectronics, bear little resemblance to previous ones. Over the past five years one of the more rapidly advancing and improving security technologies has been biometrics.

A new research study of security dealers in the United States showed that all types of access control devices are predicted to increase in use over the next three years. "However," the report noted, "relative to the percentage of dealers reporting current use of the technologies, biometrics appear to be associated with the greatest predicted gains." (1) Another industry report projects that the market for biometric products during the next five years will expand at the rate of between 25 and 40 percent per year. This report states, "These [biometric] products are regarded, more than any other category, as representing the future of the access control industry." (2)

Biometrics is the automated technique of measuring a physical characteristic or personal trait as a means of recognizing or verifying an individual's idenity. (3) Biometric technologies--including fingerprint matching, retinal pattern matching, hand geometry matching, signature dynamics, and voice pattern matching--are most commonly used for personal identification.

Today, biometric technologies are being used both in and outside the security industry. Automated fingerprint scanners are being used extensively within the criminal justice community as a beginning to automatic fingerprint identification systems. Voice is being used as an identification tool for early parole monitoring. All the technologies can be found in the growing computer and data security field. According to an annual industry directory, all these applications are growing. However, the leading application of biometric technologies continues to be physical access control. (4)

The principal function of physical access control is to prohibit unauthorized individuals from gaining access to specific areas without excluding authorized persons from those areas. For example, an electrified fence will stop unauthorized entry, but it will als prohibit authorized entries. Therefore, all access control devices are designed to achieve an equal balance of errors.

As high-tech technology, biometrics quantify their balance of errors; older access control technologies such as cards and keypads do not. Clearly these other technologies do have error rates: Card readers falsely deny access to an individual who has not presented his or her access card properly to the reader, card readers accept any individual merely because he or she has a valid card, and keypads approve access for any individual who enters a correct code.

Over the past two years, the leading biometric manufacturers have introduced a new generation of products that focus on the needs of the majority of security managers. These products range from $900 to $2,000 per access point, making them competitive with other access control technologies. In addition, they are designed with a variety of interfaces that allow for integration into existing systems. Above all else, these products are simple to use.

ALL BIOMETRIC DEVICES OPERATE in a similar manner. Users are enrolled or registered during a one-time procedure. This procedure consists of assigning a personal identification number (PIN), assigning access and authority levels, determining restrictions for access time and location, and submitting a biometric sample. The biometric sample is processed by the particular device and stored as a template.

There are two methods for automating the reading of a fingerprint. One method is to assign locations to the minutiae using x-y and directional coordinates. The other method is to digitize the entire print. With the latter method, when the fingerprint image is scanned, up to a quarter million pieces of information are digitized and converted to the template, which is a mathematical characterization of the fingerprint.

A typical enrollment sequence takes less than one minute. Usually one fingerprint is enrolled for each user. For special security applications, two or more can be enrolled under one PIN.

Subsequent identity verification using this method of fingerprint scanning takes one to two seconds. A user enters his or her PIN on a keypad, which is part of the biometric device, and places the enrolled finger on the unit's scanner. This image is digitized in the same process used for enrollment. The new template is then compared to the stored template. Access is granted if the two templates match within a certain tolerance.

Voice pattern verification technology creates a mathematical model of the vocal tract. The modeling is accomplished through analysis of the unique properties of the speaker's vocal tract. Speech signals identifying these properties are transformed into digital patterns that represent the identity of the speaker and indicate the speaker's unique physical characteristics. Users are enrolled into a voice reader during a one-time procedure that requires an average of 20 seconds. Each user chooses or is assigned a PIN and a password that the user repeats three times. The voice reader then builds the individual's acoustic voice pattern.

To gain entry, users enter their PINs and state their passwords. These digital patterns are compared via dynamic programming to a stored digital model for the speaker. The verification decision is based on distance measurements of this comparison. Daily fluctuations in a voice pattern are used to update user speech profiles automatically, thus improving voice reader performance with use.

A retinal pattern is to the pattern formed by the blood vessels of the eye. Retinal scanner technology uses a low-intensity light to scan the circular area of the retina. A digitized pattern is then developed and converted to a template. The typical enrollment process takes less than one minute. Multiple scans of one eye are used to enroll the user.

In the verification mode, a user enters his or her PIN on the device's keypad and then submits to an eye scan. The resulting image is processed by the device. The new template is then compared with the eye signature template associated with the PIN, and access is allowed or denied depending on whether the templates match within tolerance.

Hand geometry consists of measuring the full geometric shape of a hand. This process is accomplished by examining sideways and top-down views of the hand. This provides a three-dimensional image. Using a camera and light, the device takes a picture of the hand. The picture is then digitized, compressed, and stored as a template. This enrollment sequence requires about one minute.

User verification takes about five seconds. Using the device's keypad, a user enters his or her PIN and places his or her hand on the device. A picture of the hand is taken. This image is then digitized in the same process used for enrollment. This new template is then compared to the stored template. Access is granted if the two templates match within a certain tolerance.

Several techniques are used for analyzing different aspects of the dynamic process of makings a signature. The most common measures are the spatial characteristics of the signature and various timing characteristics such as pen-in-air movements. All the characteristics are computed and stored as a signature template. As a rule, signature dynamics devices use a special pen and discerning writing tablets. For enrollment, users are required to deliver multiple samples of their signatures.

At verification time, users submit a sample signature that is processed and compared to the stored signature template. Based on this comparison and tolerance levels, access is granted or denied.

Security management tools such as programmable time zones, time-stamped audit records, a printer interface, and alarm contact monitoring and reporting are sometimes built into a basic standalone biometric reader. This contrasts with other low-end access control products.

For security managers who wish to add biometric readers to their existing access control system, Wiegand interface options are usually available. With the Wiegand format interface, a biometric reader can be easily integrated with most of the card-based systems in the market. When a biometric reader with this option is connected to a card access control system, the biometric reader communicates to the system host as if it were just another card reader.

What does the future hold for biometric technologies in physical security? A recent survey of the biometric industry revealed the following: Over 75 percent of the respondents expect voice pattern matching will come to the consumer market for residential security, almost 80 percent of the respondents anticipated that fingerprint or voice pattern matching will be most common for office security, and over 80 percent of the survey respondents stated that it was probable that fingerprint or hand geometry matching will be used for industrial applications. (5)

With today's rapid technological advances, security is starting to look like the computer field. Security departments can no longer afford to be fearful of new technology. Although representing one of the newest technologies, biometrics has been proven in the marketplace. From securing a two-person office where keys and cards are unwanted to safeguarding several companies in the Fortune 100 where the newest security technology is demanded to government installations where the highest security is imperative, biometric technology is leading the technological evolution of the security industry.

Michael A. Backler is a vice president for Ecco Industries Inc. of Danvers, MA. He is a member of ASIS and a founding member of the board of directors of the International Biometric Association.

(1) The Electronic Access Control Market, Usage, Trends and Opportunities, STAT Resources Incorporated (Brookline, MA: 1989), p. 73.

(2) 1989 Access Control Market Report, J.P. Freeman and Company (Newtown, CT: 1989), p. 18.

(3) Standard Biometric Terminology and Definitions, International Biometric Association (Washington, D.C.: 1987), p. 1.

(4) 1989 Biometric Industry Directory, Warfel & Miller Incorporated (Washington, DC: 1989), p. 17.

(5) Annual Survey Results, PIN-Personal Identification News, Warfel & Miller Incorporated (Washington, DC: 1988), p. 5.
COPYRIGHT 1989 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:security devices
Author:Backler, Michael A.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Jul 1, 1989
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Next Article:Biometrics: security at the touch of a finger.

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