The lowdown on biometric technologies

What's the dope on biometric technologies?

Facial: Expensive for low-risk uses, but promising for surveillance and screening, especially when combined with fingerprint.

Fingerprint: Cheap and relatively unobtrusive; especially cost-effective for one-to-one authentication.

Grip: Scans subcutaneous tissues of hands in the grip position.

Hand geometry: Reads size, shape, distances of fingers, palms and other factors; a moderate-cost, unobtrusive biometric for high-volume entryways.

Iris: The most accurate of biometric systems works with affordable PC cameras; but sensitive to a subject's position.

Keystroke dynamics: Actually a behavioral'that is, dynamic'technique that captures unique typing styles.

Palm prints: Fingerprint accuracy times 10-plus, but the scanners are expensive'around $20,000'and database demands are intensive; law enforcement agencies like them for identifying partial fingerprints.

Retinal scans: Users dislike the light scans of the back of the eyeballs required by this most intrusive, accurate'and now out of favor'approach.

Signature: Another behavioral technique, it analyzes pen motions; gaining popularity, but not as widely deployed as fingerprint.

Speaker verification: Recognizes voice patterns for decent accuracy, but ambient noise and a tedious speaker-enrollment process limit use; favored for phone-based financial transactions.

Vein: Infrared scanner and digital camera acccurately find vein patterns in arms.

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