New Software Puts Biometrics in Reach

Here’s a quick quiz:
Which of the following biometric technologies will be in common use in the United States in the next five years?

a. iris scan

b. facial recognition

c. hand geometry

d. fingerprint scan

e. voice recognition

f. electronic signature verification

g. none of the above

h. all of the above

Only time will tell which answer is correct; however, judging from the advancements in software technology and recent legislation mandating increased safeguards in the financial industry, my answer is “h. all of the above.” Why? Because new software technologies on the market enable systems integrators/dealers to easily incorporate each of these technologies into a complete turnkey security system for commercial clients. A single system cannot only support access control cards (or even smart cards), burg, fire and CCTV, but also can support any combination of biometric safeguards.

Imagine the profitability of not just doing the security, but also being able to secure the end user’s laptop computers, databases and e-commerce transactions all in the same system! It can already be done using some of the enabling software on the market from a number of companies. Most dealers have probably never heard of these vendors, but your access control card supplier knows them. The next time you’re placing an order, ask about it.

Each of the biometric technologies listed previously has advantages and disadvantages. Some drawbacks include high cost, slow speed or high reject rates. On the flip side, advantages include increased security, reduced administrative costs, ease of use and lower cost.

The Financial Service Modernization Act of 1999 has mandated banks to upgrade to higher forms of security to protect consumers’ privacy. Passwords and PINs will be eliminated. A biometric “key” is untransferrable. Already, the International Biometric Industry Association says more than 80 ATMs in Phoenix have iris and facial recognition in place. At least one bank is working on voice recognition to accommodate home banking. A major laptop maker will be providing fingerprint scans and smart card chip readers with its computers soon. IBIA says the average cost for biometric access control has fallen to $1,000 per door from $5,000 per door a few years ago.

This James Bond-type technology is here to stay and dealers who don’t position themselves as systems integrators are already missing out on hugely profitable commercial clients, such as Wall St. brokerage houses, banks and universities.

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