Biometrics History — Looking at Biometric Technologies from Past to Present

The ancient Egyptians and the Chinese played an important role in the history of biometrics. Although biometric technology seems to belong to the 21st century, the history of biometrics dates back thousands of years. Today, the focus is on using biometric face recognition and identifying features to stop terrorism and improve security measures. Once an individual is compared to a model, or sample, in the database, a security alert is sent to authorities. The space of a person between the eyes, ears, and nose provides most of the identifying information.

The ACLU and other civil liberties groups are against the widespread use of these biometric technologies, although they recognize the need for their presence at airports and after the London bombings. Biometric technologies must also achieve greater standardization and technological innovations to be recognized as a trustworthy identity authentication solution.

A timeline of biometric technology

o European explorer Joao de Barros recorded the first known example of fingerprints, which is a form of biometrics, in China in the 14th century. Chinese merchants used ink to take children’s fingerprints for identification.

o In 1890, Alphonse Bertillon, a Parisian police office, studied body mechanics and measurements to help identify criminals. The police used their method, the bertillonage method, until they falsely identified certain subjects. The bertillonage method was quickly abandoned in favor of fingerprinting, brought back into service by Richard Edward Henry of Scotland Yard.

o Karl Pearson, an applied mathematician, studied biometric research in the early 20th century at the University College of London. He made important discoveries in the field of biometrics by studying statistical history and correlation, which he applied to animal evolution. His historical work included the method of moments, the Pearson curve system, correlation, and the chi-square test.

o In the 1960s and 1970s, signature-based biometric authentication procedures were developed, but the biometric realm remained fixed until military and security agencies researched and developed biometric technology beyond fingerprinting.

o 2001 Super Bowl in Tampa, Fla – Every facial image of 100,000 fans passing through the stadium was recorded via CCTV cameras and electronically verified against Tampa police photos. No criminals have been identified and video surveillance has led many civil liberties advocates to denounce biometric identification technologies.

o After September 11 – after the attacks, authorities installed biometric technologies at airports to identify suspected terrorists, but some airports, such as Palm Beach International, never achieved full facility status due to costs of the surveillance system.

o July 7, 2005 London, England – British law enforcement uses biometric facial recognition technology and 360-degree fish-eye video cameras to identify terrorists after four bombings in the underground and in a double decker bus. In fact, London has over 200,000 security cameras and surveillance cameras in use since the 1960s.

Today and looking forward to

Biometrics is a growing and controversial area in which civil liberties groups are voicing concerns about privacy and identity issues. Today, biometric laws and regulations are underway and biometric industry standards are being tested. Facial recognition biometrics have not reached the current level of fingerprinting, but with constant technological surges and the threat of terrorism, biometric researchers and developers will perfect this security technology for the 21st century.

Copyright © 2005 Evaluseek Publishing.

Source by Alice Osborn

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