What are fingerprint readers?
Fingerprints are practically synonymous with identity. The unique ridges and whorls on the tips of your finger have been distinguishing one person from another since 1788 when German anatomist Johann Christoph Andreas Mayer discovered that every fingerprint is different.
Fingerprint readers do exactly what their name describes. Using either optical, capacitive, or ultrasound sensor technology, they measure the characteristics of a fingerprint. This can be used to identify an individual by comparing the scanned print to many different templates stored in a database, as is commonly done with criminal background checks, or it can be done on a one-to-one basis in order to authenticate a user.
Where can I find fingerprint readers?
Fingerprint readers, thanks to innovations in cost efficiency and design, can be found in a wide variety of applications. Wall mounted access control terminals, police squad cars, patient sign-in areas at clinics, the smartphone in your pocket—these are only some of the places you can find biometric fingerprint readers.
Thanks to the widespread availability of consumer grade fingerprint biometrics on smartphones, the average user is becoming familiar with the modality as it continues to proliferate digital security and identity across all manner of vertical markets. In some countries it has become mandatory to enroll a fingerprint in order to open a mobile account, while other places require fingerprints to vote in elections. Fingerprint readers are all around us, ushering us into a new era of identity.
How are fingerprint readers making a difference?
Fingerprint biometrics are a common modality for performing criminal background checks for individuals seeking to work in the public trust. In the United States, these checks can be performed in around 15 minutes, and the FBI’s Rap Back program keeps employers up to date on any subsequent criminal activity performed by the applicant.
Of course, a growing number of consumers are already familiar with fingerprint scanning thanks to the proliferation of this technology on smartphones. Fingerprint authentication is used not only to unlock devices, but also to do things like sign into mobile apps and authorize transactions on mobile payment platforms. And soon, fingerprint authentication will become even more mainstream with the launch of biometric payment cards from Visa, Mastercard, and major banks around the world.
Fingerprint scanning technology is also making its way into all kinds of other devices and applications, from smart locks to data storage devices to suitcases, helping to keep user data safe across a growing number of areas.