Tech Update

Tech Update

Life sensing devices

Katya Naidu explores biometric technology and their trends

A scratch on your finger can change the reading of your fingerprints. And it takes just a small-time hacker to crack your ten-character password. Where does this take the promise of security? The answer for a more secure system has made techies look into their hearts. And that has led to the new age cardiac biometrics.

The new age cardio-based biometric authentication uses a person’s natural BioDynamic Signature (BDSTM). BDSTM is an electro bio-signature that is unique to each individual. Unlike other biometric technologies that use fingerprints, pictures or static bio-signals to identify a person, BDS is based on intrinsic human electro- biometric dynamic signals acquired by merely touching a small conductive surface. The signature is based on the electronic signals humans produce from the body, including the heart.

The signature includes a combination of electrical signals from the heart and central nervous system. The sensors measure these signals, run them through an algorithm on a computer and create a digital representation of the signature. Individual signatures can identify people more accurately than fingerprints, based on preliminary testing. Moreover, as the signature includes both genetic and physiological components, it’s not significantly altered by activities like a brisk walk up stairs or a cup of coffee. Only a major medical event—a heart attack, for example, would throw the machine off.

The trends

This new category of cardio-based biometric solutions opens a new dimension in biometric technology and offers superior performance, cost and reliability. They are accurate, user friendly and difficult to deceive. The past few years have seen biometric technologies mature, making their presence felt in the security scenario.

For mainstream applications such as enterprise security, there is increasing awareness of biometric authentication and some development trends are bringing biometrics closer to widespread adoption in this market. “We see an increase in biometric technologies that are life sensing, measuring factors such as blood pressure, which reduce the chance of spoofing. In addition, we see a trend toward mobile biometric solutions, which increase both breadth of usability and security, enabled by incorporating new developments in bio-metrics, such as match-on-card tech nology,” says Shlomi Yanai, Vice-President, e-token business unit, Aladdin Knowledge Systems.

Challenges ahead

One of the major challenges of biometric technology is cost, as reliable solutions in the market are still expensive and it will take time to be accepted by both enterprises and consumers. Mainstream biometric technology like fingerprinting does not provide the level of accuracy and usability that many enterprises look for. In addition, the use of fingerprints raises privacy concerns among users, who are uncomfortable with having their fingerprint templates stored in a central location, where others can access them. The overriding challenge is to bring to the market a device that offers cost effectiveness, reliability and accuracy, while being user friendly.

Portable biometric devices like Aladdin’s eToken could just be an answer to the predicament. “Aladdin’s BioDynamic Reader is the first device to address the key issues of biometrics today, and therefore, has the potential to take biometric authentication into the mainstream of enterprise security,” says Yanai. The device looks like a small computer mouse with two metal contacts. When touched for a few seconds, using one finger of both the hands to complete the circuit, the device measures several factors in your heartbeat to record the “biodynamic signature”. Well, looks like technology is giving Ian Fleming’s ‘Q’ a run for his money.