What Are Biometrics?

In today’s security world there are several ways of authenticating a person’s identity, but none is more secure than using an individual’s own biometric characteristics as means of authentication. Biometric physical access control solutions provide stronger authentication methods than a PIN, access card or physical keys, which can be lost or stolen and facilitate an unauthorized entry. In fact, biometrics is the only credential that positively authenticates the person before he or she accesses a secure area.

There are however multiple biometric technologies that can be deployed, and consideration should be given to which technologies will work best for your application. There are several factors to consider to ensure that what you choose will perform to expectations in all anticipated conditions. This page provides an overview of biometrics and our methodology to help you evaluate your needs and ensure you choose the best solution for your application.

See Biometric Solutions in Action

Guide yourself through a 360-degree tour of Anixter's Infrastructure Solutions Lab during the Biometrics Showcase and learn about the different biometric solutions Anixter offers! Simply use your mouse to move about the lab.

How Do Biometrics Work?

When an individual is enrolled in a biometric system, a sensor captures the selected biometric and creates a biometric signature or template algorithm. The enrolled templates for each user are not a picture or image of the user’s fingerprint, but rather a mathematical representation via an algorithm score. The algorithm cannot be re-engineered or recreated into the user’s fingerprint image. The template is stored for future comparison in a central database or on a card (or both), depending on the application. When biometric recognition is required, the individual’s biometric characteristics are read by the reader. On each additional scan, the identifying features are compared by the reader with the stored template to determine if there is a match. If the template and the presented biometrics match, the biometric ID number is sent to the access control panel, permission is verified and access is granted.

Biometric readers must have a database to store the templates for comparison. The encrypted templates can be stored in the reader or an individual template can be stored on the card. These work in different ways:

  1. In the reader: The biometric template is stored in the reader. When a live biometric credential is presented to the reader, it is compared to the internal database. If a match is found, the reader sends the user information to the access control system to verify that the user is permitted to enter the secured area. If the user is authorized, the access control system releases the electronic door locking hardware. In many countries, storing the biometric data on the reader is prohibited.
  2. On the card: The biometric template is stored within the memory on the smart card. When the smart card is presented to the biometric reader, the reader gathers the template from the smart card and then compares it to the live biometric credential. If a match is found, the reader sends the user information to the access control system to verify that the user is permitted to enter the secured area. If the user is authorized, the access control system releases the electronic door locking hardware.

For access control systems with many users or multiple doors, it is recommended that the templates are stored in the database on the reader or on a credential. Biometric readers communicate over the existing LAN or WAN network. In most cases, the readers are PoE powered. In applications where the templates are stored on the reader, the enrolled templates are pushed out to all biometric readers on the network. In networked mode, the biometric reader is connected to the access control panel with standard reader connections. The biometric reader sends out the user ID number and the access control system makes the access decisions. In standalone mode, the biometric reader makes the access decisions.

Which Biometric Reader Is Best for Your Application?

There are multiple ways of using an individual’s unique characteristics as a means of access. These could include a fingerprint scan, finger vein scan, palm vein scan, iris scan, retina scan, hand geometry scan or 3D facial scan.

What’s the C.A.S.E? Determining the Best Biometric Reader for an Application

Compare Biometric Readers

This article and easy-to-use table help you choose the best reader for your application by comparing the C.A.S.E. (Convenience, Acceptability, Speed/Accuracy and Environment) for different readers.

Watch: How to Choose the Right Biometric Access Control Technology

 

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