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


Biometric physical access control is the most secure means for allowing access due to the unique physical characteristics of every individual. 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. Biometrics is the only credential that positively authenticates the person before he or she accesses a secure area.

Video: How to Choose the Right Biometric Access Control Technology

There are multiple ways of using an individual’s unique characteristics as a means of access. These could include a fingerprint, finger vein scan, iris recognition, hand geometry, 3D facial recognition, video facial recognition or touchless fingerprint. Before deciding on which technology fits your application, there are four things you should consider: convenience, acceptability, speed and environment. An easy way to remember these criteria is to ask, what is the C.A.S.E. for this biometric reader?

C – Convenience (Easy to use) Can the user easily approach and present their credential or biometric?

A – Acceptability (User Acceptance & Security) How well do the users accept interfacing with the technology and how well does it meet the level of security for the risk? What is the false reject rate (FRR) and the false accept rate (FAR)?

S – Speed & Accuracy (Throughput) How quickly can the user get through the presentation process and how accurate is the technology when the credential or biometric is presented (false reject)?

E – Environment (Applications) Where is the reader being used - indoor, outdoor, lighting, vandal prone, dirty conditions, hands-free or other unique requirements?

The chart below provides a quick and easy guide to making your C.A.S.E.






Fingerprint Recognition

Most widely used biometric; intuitive and easy to use; finger placed on sensor; lit with red light

There is still some resistance to enrolling a fingerprint biometric; FAR is extremely low; FRR affects a small number of users; high quality readers reduce false rejects

Throughput is high, reads biometric in less than 1 second

Indoor, outdoor and ruggedized models

Fingeprint and Vein

Reader aligns finger for correct fingerprint and vein scanning

Combines two biometrics into one template (dual modal) to create a high-security biometric reader

Reads are slower - read time is 1.5 seconds

Applications where security requirements are higher and throughput is not a major concern

Iris Recognition

Hands-free camera sensor is adjustable for varied heights; correct distance is required to read biometrics; the unique pattern in the human iris is formed by 10 months of age and remains unchanged throughout one’s lifetime

User acceptance to the technology is high once they understand it is iris and not retina; this is a very high-security biometric technology – the chance of two irises being identical is 1 in 1078

It takes about two seconds to align your eyes with the reader and have it authenticate the user

Excellent choice for hands-free environments; indoor use

Touchless Fingerprint

Very easy to use - waving hand across the sensor reads the biometric

Being touchless, the resistance to using a wave reader is low; security is adjustable; since the reader captures biometric data from one to four fingers, the security can be adjusted for lower and higher security applications

Very fast read; users do not even need to stop walking motion to use reader

Indoor environments, high-traffic entrances, high-security entrances

3D Facial Recognition

Hands free - correct stance in front of the sensor is required; monitor shows placement; lower height installation is required to accommodate all users

Some resistance to presenting facial biometrics; 3D technology compares 40,000 data points for very low FAR

FRR and slow reads can occur for facial changes, glasses and incorrect positioning at the reader

Indoor applications; best results without backlighting issues; hands free/ touchless for clean room environments

Hand Geometry

The reader is intuitive on how to place your hand

Well accepted as it is not taking any usable biometric data; less secure than other biometrics

1:1 verification; a pin code must be used to retrieve the biometric template for verification

Indoor or outdoor with specialized enclosure; good for users with dirty/ worn hands; often used for time and attendance applications

Video Facial Recognition

Looking at the camera captures the biometric template

FRR and FAR are is higher than other biometric technologies

Best applications include uses as dual authentication

Indoor or outdoor; consistent lighting is required for the camera

The right biometric system is an effective method to identify and authenticate personnel, but it is important to remember to take into account the customer’s needs and requirements. It is not a one-biometric-technology-fits-all world, so develop your C.A.S.E. and understand the need for convenience, accuracy, speed and the environment where the system will be deployed to ensure that the customer’s expectations are met.