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Introduction to Biometrics

Introduction to Biometrics

Biometrics is the technology used to measure and analyze a person’s unique attributes, such as behavior and physical features (Khairwa et al., 2012). Behavior is detected and analyzed through signature styles, vocal patterns, how a person walks, and keystrokes. Physical features include palm prints, facial features, eyes, and fingerprints. Biometrics data is gathered and stored in databases to be retrieved and compared later to identify or verify the required information. The main types of biometrics are face, iris, and fingerprint recognition. Iris recognition includes comparing the unique patterns and characteristics of the colored part of the eye to authenticate and verify a person’s identity. Facial recognition involves matching a person’s face against a database of faces. Fingerprint recognition includes comparing the patterns of two fingerprints to determine whether they are similar. The application of biometrics has been prevalent in the public and private sectors due to the increasing need to enhance security. This paper reviews high and low biometrics in today’s private and public sectors.

How a high biometric is used in the public and private sectors today

High biometrics measure physical attributes and provide the most reliable data. Therefore, the biometrics in this category include those that capture fingerprints, retina, and iris patterns. In the private sector, financial institutions use finger vein technology as part of their authentication approach for customers using Automated Teller Machines. The technology includes analyzing blood vessels’ patterns on the surface of the fingers or skin (Ying & Qinglei, 2010). It relies on capturing a picture of a person’s veins by passing a near-infrared light on their fingers. The hemoglobin absorbs the blood’s light, making the veins appear as a line pattern. The image is then recorded, and the raw data is transformed into digital data and sent to the database where similar images have been stored. Authentication is done by scanning the finger and verifying the data against the database consisting of registered images. Fingerprints are also being used in the retail sector via point-of-sale machines that require the cashier to log in with their fingerprint to prevent unauthorized access to company systems.

The United States government uses fingerprint recognition in the public sector to enhance border security due to the increased population of illegal immigrants (Smyth, 2019). For instance, the United States Department of Homeland Security has upgraded the technology to collect biometric information to identify international travelers more accurately and quickly. The department uses the technology to scan the fingerprints of all international travelers at the border, ports, and airports to verify that they are not in the United States’ criminals’ database. The fingerprint collection technology has been upgraded to 10 fingerprint collections to collect additional fingerprints for more information against which to verify a traveler’s identity and fasten the process of matching the biometrics to confirm a traveler’s identity.

How a low biometric is used in the public and private sectors today

Low biometrics measure behavior and are often used with other technologies to ensure accurate data. Facial recognition is the most popular low biometrics used in the private and public sectors. One of the uses of facial recognition in the private sector is mobile security. Mobile manufacturers are promoting using human features to allow access to mobile devices. Apple and Android smartphones use facial recognition technology to access the phone as part of the login feature. The owner can scan their face with the phone’s camera and store it in the phone so that whenever a person tries to access the phone, their face is compared to the one stored in the phone to determine whether they have authorization (Liu, 2015). The phone can only be unlocked if the face matches the one in the phone’s database. Facial recognition in the private sector is also being incorporated in television brands such as Samsung and LG to customize and personalize the user’s experience. Facial recognition is also being used to improve home security through a smart camera equipped with facial recognition technology that can detect the homeowner’s face to determine whether there is an intrusion. The cameras are connected to the home alarm systems to trigger an alarm if a new face is detected and there is no authorization from the owner to grant entry to the premises.

In the public sector, facial recognition is used for border protection. Customs and Border Protection has been collaborating with airlines to use facial recognition to screen passengers entering the United States since 2016. President Donald Trump issued an executive order last year requiring the main airports in the United States to use facial recognition for all international passengers. The application of facial recognition in airports includes capturing images at the most commonly used checkpoints with the passenger’s approval and comparing the images with those stored in the airports’ databases. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Next Generation Identification Program also uses facial recognition to monitor and identify persons of interest. Australia is also using facial recognition to identify fake passports to address the issue of illegal immigrants and visa fraud, which contribute to the rise in the crime rate. Japan uses automated immigration gates that automatically compare the faces of outbound and inbound travelers to their passport pictures. Facial recognition in the public sector is also used in sporting events to prevent the entry of terrorists and criminals, who could risk the security of the players and spectators. The technology is mainly used in large sporting events such as the World Cup and the Olympics. In Ontario, facial recognition is used when issuing deriving licenses to detect fraud and identity theft and ensure that a license holder’s identity is correct.


The use of biometrics is one of the emerging technologies being embraced in the public and private sectors. Based on the discussion above, it is evident that biometrics enhance security in the private and public sectors. In the public sector, biometrics prevent crimes associated with fake identities, such as illegal immigration and identity theft. In contrast, in the private sector, biometrics are used to prevent unauthorized entry to personal phones, homes, and access to company data. Biometrics is also used in the entertainment industry to customize and personalize the entertainment experience by enabling devices such as televisions to identify the person watching and suggest programs based on the user’s preference. However, the prevalence of biometrics in the private sector is low compared to the public sector. The difference could be attributed to laws regulating the applications in the private sector. Therefore, the future of biometrics in the private sector will be defined by implementing laws regulating the data collected by private entities and how the data should be used.


Khairwa, A., Abhishek, K., Prakash, S., & Pratap, T. (2012). A comprehensive study of various biometric identification techniques. 2012 Third International Conference on Computing, Communication and Networking Technologies (ICCCNT’12).

Liu, H. (2015). Face technologies on mobile devices. Facial Detection and Recognition on Mobile Devices, 11-38.

Smyth, S. M. (2019). Biometrics and border security. Biometrics, Surveillance, and the Law, 138-169.

Ying, Q., & Qinglei, L. (2010). Research on finger vein recognition technology. 2010 International Conference on Electrical and Control Engineering.


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Introduction to Biometrics

Introduction to Biometrics

You have been asked to explore the practical applications of biometrics in the public and private sectors.
• Describe how a high biometric is used today in the public and private sectors.
• Describe how a low biometric is used in today’s public and private sectors.
• Support your work with properly cited research and examples of the selected biometrics applied in the public and private sectors.

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