Biometrics and the Future An identity is stolen every second; at least ten were stolen in the time it took to read this sentence (Chaflin, 2005). On a daily basis people all over the world are subject to navigating the ins and outs of life depending on an assortment of cards and passwords that confirms their identity. If they were to lose their bank card an ATM will refuse to give them money. Forget a simple password, and their own computer will not respond to them. By far the worse outcome is to allow their cards or passwords to fall into the wrong hands, and what was intended to be a security measure can become the tool of fraud or identity theft. The time for a more secure form of identification is upon us. A potential solution can be seen in the form of biometric identification.
To understand the benefits of biometric identification one must understand the concept of biometrics. By combining the Greek words “bio”, which stands for “life”, and “metrics”, which stands for “measure”, a person can produce the term “biometrics” or “life measurements” (Woodward, 2003). Everyone has at least, once in their lives seen a movie where a villain or hero accesses a secret area by the use of a handprint or voice command. What was considered science fiction many years ago, today biometrics is being used in a variety of ways and the average person may not even be aware of it. To begin to grasp the concept and to truly understand biometrics at the most basic level, all one has to do is to picture someone special to them in their mind. A human can specifically distinguish another human by remembering there eye color, hair color, the shape of their nose, a facial abnormality like a mole, or any combination of facial features (Vacca, 2007). While the human mind is capable of remembering the physical characteristics of several humans, it is something entirely different when they attempt to retain, reference, and sort thousands of biometric data which may contain details down to the molecular level. Today, this has been made easier by computer technology. With the use of modern computers, the biometric information of countless millions can be stored.
The first recorded use of biometrics dates back to the 14th century when the Spanish explorer Joao de Barros witnessed Chinese parents pressing their children’s inked fingers and feet onto paper allowing them to differentiate one child from another (Roberts, 2005). By doing this, the Chinese solved a way to tell apart young children from one another. This is one of the earliest uses of biometrics; it is still used today when children are born. Through Barros’ travels, he also noted that Chinese businessmen closed various financial and business transactions with fingerprints. There are other pieces of historical evidence indicating the use of biometrics for various purposes prior to Barros’ records. In a cave estimated to be at least 40,000 years old, the walls were covered with paintings created by early man. Acting as a primitive form of signature, there were handprints located near these paintings that acted as a form of signature (Renaghan, 1997). Biometrics has been around for thousands of years, now is the time to take this concept to the next level. Though biometrics has been used for some time now throughout the world it never became a popular practice until a man named Alphonse Bertillion decided to remedy the predicament of identifying convicted criminals (Wayman, 2004). The problem with identifying criminals that were captured again was that the criminals often gave different aliases each time they were arrested. This would keep them from receiving the larger sentence for being a repeat offender. He realized that even if a criminal changed his name, cut his hair or put on weight, certain elements of the body wouldn’t change. This led him to form a method of measuring the more noticeable parts