What Is Biometric Authentication?

6 July 2023



Biometric authentication is defined as a security measure that matches the biometric features of a user accessing a device or a system. Accessing the system is only granted when those features match those stored in the database for that user.

What is Biometric Authentication?

Biometric authentication is based upon the physical and biological features that are unique to every individual. These features are saved in a database and can be easily compared to the user attempting to access the account or device.

Such biometric authentication can be placed in various physical environments such as doors, gates, server rooms, military bases, airports, and ports. 

Today, biometric authentication tools have become a part of most consumer devices, particularly computers and smartphones.

Types of Biometric Authentication

Fingerprint Scanners

Fingerprint scanners — the most common form of biometric authentication method — scan the swirls and ridges unique to every person’s fingertips. Current technological advances have resulted in scanners that go beyond fingerprint ridges to scan for vascular patterns. This has helped bring down false positives that occasionally occur with consumer-grade biometric options found on smartphones. Fingerprint scanners remain the most accessible and popular.

Facial Recognition

Like the fingerprint scanner, facial recognition technology scans a face based on approved and stored parameters and measurements. These parameters are collectively called faceprints. Access is granted only when a large number of them are satisfied. Despite the inconsistency in matching faces to parameters from different angles or distinguishing between similar or related people, facial recognition is included in several smart devices.

Voice Recognition

This version focuses on vocal characteristics to distinguish one person from another. A voice is captured to a database, and several data points are recorded as parameters for a voiceprint. Vocal recognition technologies focus more on mouth and throat shape formation and sound qualities than merely listening to a voice. This helps reduce the chances of misreading a voice imitation attempt.

Eye Scanners

Eye scanners include retina and iris scanners. A retina scanner projects a bright light at an eye to highlight blood vessel patterns that a scanner can read. These readings are compared to the information saved in the database. Iris scanners evaluate unique patterns in the coloured ring of the pupil. Both scanner forms are ideal for hands-free verification. However, they can be unreliable if a person wears contact lenses or spectacles.