The Promises and Challenges of Biometrics


Tuesday, September 23, 2003, 12:00pm

University Center Ballroom

Biometrics is an emerging field of technology using unique and measurable physical characteristics that can be processed electronically to identify a person. The physical attributes include face, fingerprints, hand geometry, handwriting, iris, retina, and voice. Compared to the traditional identification/ verification methods, such as paper or plastic ID cards, biometrics can be more convenient for users, has lower costs for businesses, reduces fraud, and is more secure. It is important to be able to determine that "you are who you say you are" in order to avoid identify theft and to avoid allowing unauthorized people to enter secured areas. Today, the use of biometrics is primarily by law enforcement for criminal identification, by the military for access to restricted areas, and by immigration agents for non-citizen entrance to the United States. For tomorrow, biometrics can replace a computer password, a credit card for making purchases, and an ATM card to get money, or be used to permit entry to schools and offices. There are many promises in the near future from biometrics, but also many challenges. The challenges include technical challenges, but the most significant challenges are non-technical. For widespread use, the public must be comfortable with biometrics, and this involves understanding and accepting privacy issues, safety issues, and policy issues. In this presentation, we present the current state-of- the-art for biometric systems, and we offer predictions for the future with biometrics.

Delores Etter

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