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Biometric Technology: a brief history (Infographic)

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Modern biometric technology saw its beginnings in the 1960s, when scientists began exploring and identifying the physiological components of acoustic speech and phonic sounds that became the forerunner of modern voice recognition technology. Specifically, in 1969, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began to push for automated fingerprint identification that led to the study of minutiae points in mapping unique patterns and ridges of fingerprints.

In 1975, the FBI funded the first scanners that could extract fingerprint points. As digital storage costs were prohibitive at the time, the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) began working on compression and algorithms. It led to the development of the M40 algorithm, the first operational matching algorithm that the FBI uses in narrowing down the human search. It can produce a significantly smaller set of images for trained and specialized human technicians to evaluate.

By the 1990s, biometric science took off as the Department of Defence (DoD) partnered with the Defense Advanced Research Products Agency (DARPA) in funding face recognition algorithms for commercial markets. Besides this, there is also the CODIS or the FBI’s forensic DNA database that can store, search, and retrieve DNA markers.

Around the 2000s came the rollout of biometrics as West Virginia University (WVU) established the first bachelor’s program focused on Biometric Systems and Computer Engineering. Additionally, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) paved the path towards standardizing generic biotechnologies as it promoted the collaborative exchange in international biometric research and development.

Aside from this, the palm print biomarker technology also emerged in the biometric stage. The European Biometric Forum emerged to address the adoption and fragmentation barriers in biometric technology. Another development in the history of biometric technology is accepting face recognition as one of the global biometric authenticators for passports and other Machine-Readable Travel Documents (RTDs).

The United States immigration also used biometrics to tighten security on offenders and facilitate travel for legitimate travelers who wants to enter the country. Biometric data such as fingerprints, voice samples, and DNA swabs were used in tracking and identifying national security threats.

Another recent development in the history of biometric technology is the shift in 2013 as Apple introduced Touch ID on the iPhone 5s. Touch ID is integrated into iOS phones and other devices that allow users to unlock their devices and make purchases through authenticating a fingerprint identification. After millions of users embraced biometric fingerprint scanners in their smartphones, Apple transitioned to use face recognition as they released iPhone X.

When it comes to the future of biometric technology, it is predicted that 5g is set to put the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data in one’s back pockets and make it more accessible to users. Standards bodies and groups like FIDO and W3C are established to regulate biometrics, especially at a time when the roadblocks in access have fallen away. The future of biology-based security and technology has been paving a path for Passwordless Authentication in ensuring data security.

If you want to learn more about the brief history of biometric technology, here is an article from LoginID.