This paper will cover how biometrics are being implemented into modern technology to improve Human Computer Interaction, as well as explore the history of biometrics.
Human Computer Interaction (HCI) is the study and design of how humans use and interact with computers. Human Computer Interaction has come to encompass nearly all forms of information systems and information technology. There are many topics and disciplines within HCI, but this paper will focus directly on the integration of biometrics and how they are influencing positive change in Human Computer Interaction.
Biometrics is the statistical measurement of an individual’s unique physical and emotional characteristics. Biometrics are primarily used in Human Computer Interaction for both identification and verification. This paper will explore what biometrics are as well as how biometrics are being integrated into modern devices to improve human-computer interaction and more.
It is important to understand what makes biometrics useful in identification and what makes them effective. Biometric identification is the process of providing evidence of identity from an enrolled population through the use of physical or psychological characteristics (Global Security). Biometric verification is authenticating a person’s claimed identity using physical or psychological characteristics, used primarily for validation and security. Biometric technologies should be evaluated against the following characteristics: Universality, Uniqueness, Permanence, Collectability, Performance, Acceptability, and Circumvention (Global Security).
Firstly, universality in biometrics requires that the characteristics being measured are available in the entire population, physical or otherwise. Due to injuries and birth defects, finding a characteristic that an entire population carries can be difficult. Instead, it is important to create accommodations for these individuals.
Uniqueness is key for biometrics as it makes individuals discernibly different from each other. With a unique identifier, biometrics would be rendered useless. Luckily, no two individuals are the same, however identical twins can be difficult to distinguish.
Permanence is an important fundamental of biometrics. It states that characteristics should not vary with time. An example that a human face will age, but a fingerprint will stay the same for the entire duration of life. The use of features that do not have complete permanence for biometrics can be done but require records to be updated often enough to prevent false or failed identification.
Collectability defines that characteristics must be easily collectible and measurable. It should also be added that the storage of records should be inexpensive and secure. Therefore, fingerprints and pictures are very popular identifiers, as they are relatively easy to collect and store.
Performance may be the most important concept for biometrics. It states that the method must deliver accurate results under varied environmental circumstances (Global Security). Biometrics rely heavily on the accuracy of identification of an individual. A lack of performance renders the use of individual recognition based on characteristics useless.
Acceptability refers to the publics willingness to provide sample collection. This is important as the acceptance of individuals will affect how large the set of collected data is. Nonintrusive methods will be seen as more acceptable by the general population. People will be more willing to take a picture or provide fingerprints than give a blood sample.
Lastly, Circumvention requires that the biometric technology be difficult to deceive or fake. The allowance of a false verification can be detrimental to the success of a biometric technology. The device responsible for collecting the sample should be able to take an untainted sample and be capable of recognizing a sample that has been tampered with. In addition, the technology responsible of identification and verification should be capable of nearly perfect identification of a large sample size.
The history of modern biometrics can be directly traced back Alphonse Bertillon, a Persian anthropologist that developed a method for identifying criminals. This method became known as Bertillonage, which involved taking measurements of various body parts as well as tracking any birthmarks, scars, flaws in the skin, or birth defects. Bertillon also took measurement of how shapes of the body changed during movement. It was estimated by Bertillon that the odds of two criminals carrying the same traits were 1 in 286,435,456 if fourteen traits were used. It can be seen here that even rudimentary traits can offer the ability to distinguish an individual out of a massive group sample size. There were however problems with Bertillonage due to human error and discrepancies in measurements.
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Fingerprints were first used for criminal identification in the 1870’s by multiple people. Dr. Henry Faulds published his thoughts about using fingerprints to identify criminals in the publication Nature in 1880. William Herschel began using fingerprints in colonial India as a form of signature and ownership. Sir Francis Galton, nephew of Charles Darwin, saw Dr. Faulds publication and ushered in significant advancement of fingerprint knowledge. Despite all of this, the first implemented fingerprinting system was created by Edward Henry and was called The Henry Classification. This method assigns each finger a number and divides fingerprint records into groupings based on pattern types. The main pattern types are arch, whorl, and loop, and allow the search of a large number of records based on which pattern the individual carries. In 1901 England adopted The Henry Classification, followed shortly after by the New York Civil Service in 1902. Since these adoptions’ fingerprints have widely been used for identification and verification across the world.
Facial recognition has been used as a form of biometric identification and verification as early as 1876 at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. First called “the photographic ticket”, photo identification was a novelty at first, but was soon adopted as a standard for federal and state issued identification. While photo recognition can be easily fooled, it is incredibly easy to collect an image and provides at minimum a small amount of biometric security.
MODERN USAGE OF BIOMETRICS HARDWARE
The current state of today’s modern society uses biometrics millions of times a day. Individuals are currently exposed to the use of biometrics for both identification and verification more than ever before in human history. It is easy to see the integration of biometrics with both personal and professional devices. Modern technology has opened the door for biometrics and has ushered in advancements of old technologies as well as created new biometric technologies that change the way we think about our interaction with our devices.
Fingerprint recognition has made huge advancements in recent years. It is the widest spread form of biometric integration in smartphones (Bayometric) and is used by millions every day. The first mobile phone to integrate fingerprint recognition for biometric verification was Pantech’s GI 100 which was released in 2004 and featured a fingerprint scanner on the front. More recently, iPhones since the iPhone 5s but before the iPhone X have integrated fingerprint scanners. Apple refers to the fingerprint recognition available on iPhones are TouchID and has found many ways to improve human computer interaction. Other major smartphone manufacturers such as Google and Samsung have integrated fingerprint recognition in their mobile phones. Many laptop computers have integrated fingerprint recognition and use the biometric in similar ways.
TouchID as well as other forms of fingerprint recognition have revolutionized how users interact with their smartphones. Fingerprint recognition is currently being used as a way to unlock the phone from its locked state. This is a prime example of fingerprints being used for biometric verification. Users are able to save the profiles of any number of their fingers for recognition purposes. In addition to providing the ability to lock and unlock the phone, fingerprint recognition is being used in mobile voting, banking, and performing online transactions (M2SYS).
The leading provider of fingerprint recognition systems is AuthenTec. AuthenTec provides four technologies: TruPrint which scans the first five layers of skin, TouchStone which is used to create a waterproof sensor, TrueFinger which ensures that only fingerprints are read, and TrueNav which tracks the movement of a finger. Recently AuthenTec was acquired by Apple for 356 million dollars.
Fingerprint recognition isn’t the only biometric being used in mobile phones. Currently there are phones available that offer facial recognition, voice recognition, and iris recognition. Both various android phones and the iPhone X offer facial recognition to provide the same functionality as fingerprint recognition. With a clear shot of a face the phones front facing camera will automatically authenticate the user and unlock the phone. Apple refers to their face recognition as FaceID and uses a front facing inferred camera, infrared light, and infrared dot projector to build a unique map of the user’s face. The inferred camera allows for a full three-dimensional scan of the face, unlike many facial recognition cameras which only offer two-dimensional recognition. This offers a greater level of security, as two-dimensional facial recognition can be defeated fairly easily.
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Iris recognition is a technology that has not yet been widespread through consumer mobile phones and laptops. The unique pattern of the human iris can be used for individual identification, similar to a fingerprint. The first smartphone with iris recognition was the Fujitsu Arrows NX F-04G and was released in 2015. The phone was not wildly successful, and an iris scanner has not been included in a smartphone since.
BIOMETRICS USE IN SOFTWARE DESIGN
With modern computers and smartphones integrating biometrics like fingerprint recognition and facial recognition for verification, software has the ability to take advantage of the new hardware and produce results that improve usability. The integration of biometrics allows applications to be designed from the ground up with action flow in mind and can lead to a much improved human computer interaction.
A common use of biometrics in software is for the use of login or verification. TouchID and FaceID are both used in many mobile banking applications to sign on after the initial loading screen. Once the application is unlocked with the biometric, it is able to be used until it is closed again. Mobile banking applications are not the only applications to take advantage of biometrics for verifying a user. Other applications like web browsers, cloud services, and file lock boxes all make use of biometrics for logon. The experience of verifying one’s identity is much faster and smoother with biometrics than the traditional method of entering logon credentials. This increase in flow is noticeable by the user and provides a much more satisfying experience.
Many mobile apps also support biometrics to allow a user to verify themselves and send payment for a number of services. A perfect example of this is Uber. Uber is a ride sharing app that allows normal drivers to enroll and earn money giving other Uber users rides. For payment, the Uber app requires users to connect a credit or debit card. To send payment to a driver, a user has the option to use biometrics; either face or fingerprint recognition. A user can also send a tip with the use of biometrics. Uber is not the only app supporting biometrics for payment. Other apps like Venmo, PayPal, Safari, Google, Coinbase, and others also support this technology.
THE FUTURE USES OF BIOMETRICS
Biometric integration in smartphones and laptops has only recently become common place, and the uses for such technologies to improve human computer interaction have only been slightly tapped into. It is hard to predict with any certainty where technology will go, but based on the possibility’s that biometrics offer, it is safe to say that user’s biology will be measured more and more frequently. The knowledge that can be withdrawn from collecting user’s biometric data can offer applications the ability to dynamically change based on a user’s mood, heartbeat, outfit, or anything else. It also offers computers the ability to change user profiles and work flows on the fly based on who is sitting in front of the computer. This would be effective for workplaces that use limited terminals with multiple users. The biometrics of a user could even affect the user rights that the person in front of the workstation, laptop, or phone has dynamically. Biometrics have just begun to scratch the surface of what is capable.
THE DRAWBACKS OF BIOMETRICS
No technology is perfect, and biometrics are no exception. Biometrics have been rapidly adopted and require a working knowledge of biometrics from both the creators of applications, as well as the average user. With the increase in adaptation and popularity, some issues and concerns have been raised regarding human dignity, sharing of biodata, danger to owners of secure items, and identity theft.
Certain individuals have raised issues with sharing biometric data because of the belief that a human is more than just a collection of measurements and parameters. Their belief is that biometrics dehumanize the user, infringe bodily integrity, and offend human dignity. These beliefs are based on a personal set of morals and principles and should be considered by anybody before participating in the use of biometrics.
Another huge concern is privacy and the sharing of biometric data. The data that can possibly be collected about users can be used to make very personal discoveries. Many individuals are concerned that the collection of this data is intrusive and can unfortunately be used to make inferences about an individual. Those concerned believe that this is again a breach of privacy.
There is also a concern that owners of expensive or sensitive items that are secured with biodata will be in danger of a targeted physical attack in attempt to gain access to the secured items. This concern, while valid, should not be thought of as too serious. The method with which an individual decides to use to secure their valuables will most likely not make them any more of a target than any other method.
The last and most serious common concern with biometrics is identity theft. Identity theft refers to a user of biometrics having their biodata stolen or used in a way that they did not authorize. Stealing a user’s biometric data offers offenders the ability to tamper with their secure accounts (Global Security). Once biometric data is compromised, the affected user has limited options, since they only have a limited number of unique identifiers for biometric security. These concerns are real, and efforts need to be taken to keep biometric data secure and out of the hands of offenders looking to use them for harm or self-gain.
The history of biometrics is an interesting one that shows how modern biometrics came to be. Biometrics offer a huge opportunity for application designers to open doors to new features and to improve the way individuals interact with an application. The surface has only been scratched with the capabilities that biometrics offer. As we see more and more devices integrate biometric scanners and sensors, it is obvious that biometrics have become commonplace within the last decade and are here to stay. Human computer interaction has been improved in many scenarios thanks to the integration of biometrics, but there is still a lot of opportunity for improvement. Overall, biometrics are and will continue to be an importance area of study for any designer concerned with human computer interaction.
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- M2SYS Blog On Biometric Technology. (2018). 5 Ways Biometric Security Redefines Mobile Phone Authentication. [online] Available at: http://www.m2sys.com/blog/guest-blog-posts/5-ways-biometric-security-will-redefine-mobile-phone-authentication/ [Accessed 10 Dec. 2018].
- The Interaction Design Foundation. (2018). What is Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)?. [online] Available at: https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/topics/human-computer-interaction [Accessed 10 Dec. 2018].
- Bayometric. (2018). Top Five Biometrics: Face, Fingerprint, Iris, Palm and Voice. [online] Available at: https://www.bayometric.com/biometrics-face-finger-iris-palm-voice/ [Accessed 10 Dec. 2018].
- Gemalto.com. (2018). Biometric authentication (What is biometrics?) | 2018 Review. [online] Available at: https://www.gemalto.com/govt/inspired/biometrics [Accessed 10 Dec. 2018].
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