Published On: Fri, Sep 24th, 2021

A brief history of biometric technology

In a world where most transactions are done online and with a few clicks on mobile devices, an effective digital identity verification solution is paramount.

Many criminals try to get past weak barriers like passwords, which are susceptible to theft and other fraudulent tactics. Consequently, more enterprises adopt biometric technology to shore up their defenses. For example, companies use multifactor authentication or MFA that combines fingerprint scans or facial biometric identity verification with other authentication factors that offer better protection than passwords.

Modern biometric technology has played a crucial role in cybersecurity, but how did it evolve into the technology people know presently?

The science behind it dates back to the 1960s where the physiological components of speech and sounds were first identified. It then influenced the development of voice recognition technology and, eventually, fingerprint technology.

By the 1970s, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) continued funding the research and innovation of biometric technology. Since digital storage was exorbitant at the time, the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) began working on the technology’s compression and algorithms. Their efforts resulted in the creation of the M40 algorithm used by the FBI. Soon after, the NIST improved speech, ocular, and face recognition technology, allowing the digitization of mugshots into databases.

About twenty years later, biometric technology boomed, with more government organizations funding its research and development. As a result, it soon became available for commercial consumption. Face recognition became the universally accepted biometric authenticator for Machine Readable Travel Documents (MRTDs) such as electronic passports. Biometrics was also used for visa applicants to tighten security while expediting travel processes at border control.

Fast forward to the 2010s. Biometric technology shifted from being a government-exclusive tool to a publicly used technology integrated into smartphones.

 The history of biometric technology is teeming with interesting information. To know more about it, see this infographic provided by LoginID.

Biometric Technology: a brief history

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