The Lowdown on Biometrics

When I think of biometric scanning, my mind immediately goes to James Bond movies where for years, the savvy agent outsmarted scanners of various types with his repertoire of gadgets that included fake contact lenses and voice recordings. Today, biometrics are no longer limited to the realm of top secret laboratories, but becoming more common in the everyday workplace. We’ve seen increased adoption in offices, hospitals, retail and even amusement parks!

But how exactly do biometrics systems work and should we be concerned from a privacy perspective? While it can seem complicated, it all boils down to the following three steps:

Registration: The first time you use a biometric system, it records basic information about you, like your name or an identification number. It then captures an image or recording of your specific trait.
Storage: Most systems do not store the complete image or recording. They instead analyze your trait and translate it into a code or graph. This method helps ensure privacy is not violated and avoids the possibility of security concerns.
Comparison: The next time you use the system, it compares the trait you present to the information on file. Then, it either accepts or rejects that you are who you claim to be.

From a technical perspective, there are also three components:

1) A sensor that detects the characteristic being used for identification
2) A computer that reads and stores the information
3) Software that analyzes the characteristic, translates it into a graph or code and performs the actual comparisons

Another interesting trend that encourages the use of biometrics is multi-factor authentication, where a user must present factor from two of three possible categories:

1) Knowledge factors: things only the individual knows (e.g. password)
2)Possession factors: things only the individual has (e.g. bank card)
3)Inheritance factors: things only the individual is (e.g. biometrics)

Whether hand topography, fingerprint, or retinal scan, biometrics are a wonderful compliment to the time shift management tools available through Workoptics. One common type of biometric time clock system uses the hand topography biometric system, which reads the dimensions and characteristics of one's hand when placed on the reading surface. These systems are great at curbing employee time theft since a user cannot punch for someone else. It provides clear accountability, accuracy and another level of security within organizations.

We would be pleased to answer any specific questions our readers have on biometric scanners and the benefits they provide in a time shift environment, especially when powered by Workoptics.