Biometrics and its Applications

The World of Biometrics

The world of biometrics involves everything from fingerprint scanning to retinal and iris scanning. Some specialized hardware can identify previous shoplifters at stores using facial recognition technology, while other technologies help forensic scientists examine crime scenes and match DNA samples.

Biometrics also applies to statistical methods that analyze data from clinical trials and other studies. These methods can improve the quality of medical research and help determine the efficacy of treatments.


Biometrics is the science of individual distinctiveness spanning characteristics like fingerprints, facial features and vocal patterns to behavioral traits such as walking or typing. It is used by police departments at crime scenes to identify suspects, medical professionals in wellness exams and companies in user verification systems that use keystroke analysis, handwriting recognition and face or eye scanning technologies.

Typically, a biometric system records a photo or recording of a trait and then transforms it into a template that can be stored on a card or in a database for future reference. When a person uses the system again, it compares the trait being presented to the existing template to determine if there is a match. Sources of variability that affect performance include the biological or behavioral instability of a characteristic over time, attempts by individuals to circumvent recognition through spoofing, and differences in feature extraction algorithms and comparison scoring mechanisms. These are all factors that need to be taken into account when selecting a biometrics technology for a particular practical application.


Biometrics is the measurement and analysis of specific physical or behavioral characteristics. It includes technologies like retina or iris scanning, voice recognition and fingerprint identification. Biometrics is used to identify a person automatically, especially for security reasons such as access control to facilities and computer systems. The technology can also help improve employee productivity by eliminating the need to use a password or other type of authentication.

The distinctiveness of the biometric identifiers can be measured using a variety of statistical methods, such as regression analysis, hypothesis testing and Monte Carlo simulation. However, the underlying statistical mechanisms are complex and poorly understood.

Some of the most commonly used biometrics are morphological features, such as face, hand and voice characteristics. These are difficult to change, such as through aging or illness. Hence, they are more resistant to fraud and circumvention. Nevertheless, even these are not impervious to changes and thus can be subjected to errors and failures.


Bioinformatics is the science of using computers to interpret biological data. It is a new field that merges biology and computer science. Like linguists analyze patterns in languages, bioinformaticians sift through biological databases and make discoveries that would be impossible to replicate in a laboratory, such as the genetic sequence of a virus or the structure of a protein.

Biometrics are unique physical characteristics, such as fingerprints, retinal blood vessel patterns and facial contours, that can be used for automated recognition. They differ from tokens such as cards, keys and passwords, in that they are innate, difficult to duplicate or spoof and remain the same over a lifetime.

Biometrics can be used for a variety of purposes, including healthcare, forensics and identity management. The Department of Homeland Security uses them for detecting and deterring illegal entry into the United States, vetting and credentialing, enabling legitimate travel and trade, and ensuring that Federal laws are enforced.


Biometrics is a branch of science that uses computer technology to identify people based on physical or behavioral traits such as fingerprints, eyes or voice scans. It is also used for verification and authentication purposes. It can be compared against existing data in a database to verify that a person is who they say they are. Biometrics are being used increasingly in businesses, making it easier for employees to access facilities and log in to computers or phone systems.

To be useful, a biometric trait must be unique and easily measurable. It should also be permanent and resistant to changes caused by illness, aging or injury. Some examples of biometrics are facial recognition, fingerprint scanning and gait analysis.

A graduate degree in statistics or biostatistics is required to prepare for a career in this field. A bachelor’s degree in math, computer science, biology, physics or engineering is helpful. Statistical theory and methods courses are essential.

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