Biometrics allows a person to be identified and authenticated based on a set of recognizable and verifiable data, which are unique and specific to them.

Biometric Authentication is the process of comparing data for the person's characteristics to that person's biometric "template" in order to determine resemblance. The reference model is first store in a database or a secure portable element like a smart card. The data stored is then compared to the person's biometric data to be authenticated. Here it is the person's identity which is being verified.

In this mode, the question being asked is: "Are you indeed Mr or Mrs X?"​

Biometric Identification consists of determining the identity of a person. The aim is to capture an item of biometric data from this person. It can be a photo of their face, a record of their voice, or an image of their fingerprint. This data is then compared to the biometric data of several other persons kept in a database.

In this mode, the question ​is a simple one: "Who are you?"

What is Biometrics?

Biometrics is the science of analyzing physical or behavioral characteristics specific to each individual in order to be able to authenticate their identity.

If we were to define biometry or biometrics in the most simple sense, we would say the "measurement of the human body".

Unlike the use of other forms of authentication, such as passwords or tokens, biometric recognition provides a strong link between an individual and a data record.

One area where biometrics can provide substantial help is in guarding against attempts to fraudulently establish multiple identities. By searching through the enrolled biometric references, individuals who appear to have previously enrolled using a different identity can be highlighted for further investigation. It is very difficult to perform this type of check without the use of biometrics.

Selection of a suitable biometric product for a particular application is not simple. The choice depends greatly on the system requirements such as:

  • Accuracy of discrimination between individuals
  • Speed of operation
  • The ability to deal with present and future numbers of individuals
  • Environmental robustness
  • Ease of use
  • Wide accessibility by the intended population of users, e.g. young and old, short and tall
  • Social acceptability, i.e. people are happy to use it
  • Secure and robust against potential attackers