Biometric Technology: A Brief History
Modern biometric technology has a history that dates back to the 1960s when scientists started to recognize the physiological aspects and sounds in phonic speech. In 1969, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) pushed for automatic fingerprint identification, which allowed for mapping unique patterns and ridges in fingerprints.
In the 1990s, biometric science took off, especially when the Department of Defense (DoD) funded face recognition algorithms for commercial markets in collaboration with the Defense Advanced Research Products Agency (DARPA). Along with this, Lockheed Martin contracted to build an automated fingerprint identification device to be used by the FBI.
Around the 2000s, West Virginia University established the first Bachelor’s Degree Program in Biometric Systems and Computer Engineering. In addition, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) that standardized generic biometric technologies also promoted international exchange in biometric research and development.
To address market fragmentation and the adoption of biometric technology, the European Biometric Forum was also created. It accepted face recognition as a method for biometric authentication of passports and other Machine Readable Travel Documents. (MTRDs). Aside from this, the United States immigration department also utilized biometrics data like DNA swabs and fingerprints in expediting visa applications for legitimate travelers.
The advent of smartphones also affected the development of biometric technology when Apple introduced Touch ID to the iPhone 5S in 2013, making biometric technology more accessible for everyday use. Touch ID allows users to unlock their iOS device and use a digital wallet for purchases with the help of fingerprint authentication. With the wide acceptance of biometric fingerprint scanners being added to smartphones, Apple then transitioned to face recognition as they released the iPhone X.
When it comes to the future of biometric technology, it is predicted that 5G is poised to make the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data more accessible than ever before. With this, biometric-based security that was once thought of as a futuristic concept is now seeing widespread acceptance to ensure data safety and security. Standard bodies and groups like FIDO2 and W3C aim to regulate biometrics, especially at a time when the roadblocks that hindered the development of biometric technology have fallen away.