Biometrics are on the tips of your fingers, the flecks of color in your eyes, the backs of your eyeballs, the shape of your face, and even the tiny imperfections in your skin. To measure a biometric identification technology, we use the false acceptance rate and the false rejection rate. The false acceptance rate is the probability that an interloper's biometrics will match a legal user in the database. The false rejection rate is the probability that a legal user's biometrics will not match their own database entry. Both are undesirable for good security.
The coolest new fingerprint technology is the TI LightCrafter, a MEMS device that uses structured light illumination (SLI) technology to scan a small 3D object such as your finger. This means you don't even have to touch the device for it to read your fingerprints. And it will read faces, teeth, and palms easily as well. It uses a DLP projector with 416,000 micro-mirrors to project stripes of light onto an object, then it measures the deformations of the stripes to reconstruct the object's 3D height field.
But at $600 each, it won't be included in your smartphone any time soon - until the price comes down.
|Infrared-scanned eye and Iris code|
Source: John Daugman
When properly done, iris scanners are good enough to provide nearly 100% security and uniqueness on a population of many million. And, by the way, identical twins have different iris patterns, too. So that scene in Eagle Eye when the identical twin gets into the system and matches his brother's biometrics: that just can't happen! The false acceptance rate of an iris scanning system that is state-of-the-art is a mere 0.00008%. The false rejection rate is nearly 0%.
There is some evidence that moderately high-resolution video cameras in normal daylight can do iris scanning and verification. This is the technology that seems most likely to be applicable to smartphones, with their modern high-resolution cameras.
Facial detail identification is another technology that is being investigated. Here's my example of this technology. In my red-eye work, I came across this image that looks like Mark Zuckerberg. But is is really him? Let's use this technology to prove that it is him.
Soon, perhaps it will be entirely unnecessary to enter passwords. And, to me, it looks like the iris scanning system is the most secure.