Biometrics carves a path of acceptance

It’s always nice to see a technology that, while in its initial stages of development seems to be laden with potential, finally begin to show signs of making it big in the mainstream world of IT. Such is shaping up to be the case with biometric technology.

This group of cutting-edge applications is no longer just the stuff of fast-paced action movies and musings about the future. Companies worldwide and in a host of different vertical markets are deploying biometrics in an effort to get a jump on their competition and ensure the safety of their users, customers and data.

Retina scans, fingerprint impressions and even vein recognition setups are now being deployed by banks, service providers and many other types of firms in an effort to ensure nothing untoward happens to their reams of information. In an age when passwords and other older types of safeguards have been proven to be problematic not only in terms of effectiveness but also in terms of management (indeed, password management has become a market unto itself), biometrics are offering a new alternative.

Perhaps the most notable area of application is at airports and other public gathering areas where security has become paramount. We are really only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the biometrics that have been deployed to this point. Hopefully, as travellers’ unique physical features are increasingly used to weed out those who pose a threat from the majority of passengers who just want to get on their way, air travel can not only be made more safe but also more speedy.

Biometrics, however, is not without its fair share of hurdles still to be overcome. The cost of such technology is still a prohibitive factor. Widespread deployment will only occur when average prices for the technologies begin to approach a more affordable level.

There is also resistance to the technologies among some observers who consider the use of physical features as an invasion of privacy and cause for concern over the ways in which personal data could be used. At the very least, a healthy level of discomfort and bewilderment on the part of much of the general public will have to be resolved.

Despite these factors, biometrics appears to be headed to the mainstream in a number of key industry sectors. The technologies have the potential to radically alter the way in which data is handled, stored and — hopefully — protected.

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