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BLOG: Biometrics: Vascular vs Fingerprint

John Trader | April 7, 2011
Will vascular biometrics eventually surpass the almighty fingerprint?

One of the advantages with vascular biometrics is that end-users have less ‘Failure to Enroll Rates’ or challenges creating feasible biometric templates that are used for matching purposes on subsequent scans through a biometric hardware device within a given system. Another advantage of vascular biometrics is that it can be interpreted as a privacy conducive modality compared to fingerprints which many believe can be easily stolen and exploited by lifting off of a surface that someone has touched.  Vascular biometrics relies on vein patterns beneath the skin which are virtually impossible to steal and since blood must be running through the veins to properly capture an image, chopping off fingers or hands to impersonate another individual’s biometric identification is not possible.  And finally, vascular is heralded as the hygienic biometric modality since no direct contact with a sensor is needed for the hardware device to capture the image needed for enrollment and matching; unlike fingerprint biometrics which require direct sensor contact leaving the door open to germs, and more rapid depreciation of the reader.

Considering the distinct advantages of vascular biometric technology, why then hasn’t it eclipsed fingerprints as the modality of choice in the industry?  Well, there are a number of reasons…

Reason #1 – PR

Despite the concrete advantages that vascular biometrics has over fingerprint, it is still relatively unknown to many. This is largely due to the fact that it hasn’t been commercially available for as long as fingerprint and does not have as strong of a brand image.

Reason #2 – Additional Biometric Modalities

The biometric modalities available to end-users are starting to get crowded.  Iris and retina, hand geometry, facial recognition, voice, keystroke, signature, ear and gait are all either available or will soon be ready for commercial applications. The crowded market makes it tough to discern the advantages and disadvantages of each modality and which is the best to use for an end-user’s unique needs.

Reason #3 – Price

Even though vascular biometrics is very affordable compared to fingerprint, it may be perceived as being too expensive because of the near infrared technology used in the devices to scan, record and identify an individual. The truth is, vascular biometrics is often not priced much higher and the returns on investment by the efficiency advantages that it creates are quickly regained by end-users.

Reason #4 – Market Acceptance of Biometrics

Despite its rise in identification prominence, biometrics still has yet to penetrate deeply into certain global markets due to apprehensions about how it affects individual privacy rights and general lack of knowledge about derived benefits after adoption.  However, the maturation of the technology is on the cusp of widespread acceptance so it will only be a matter of time before biometrics transforms from emerging to omnipresent.

John Trader is a communication specialist with M2SYS Technology, a recognised industry leader in biometric identity management technology. 


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