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Biometrics: More independent children and less stress for parents
Lost keys can very much strain the nerves of parents with kids at preschool and primary school levels. Entrusting your five- to ten-year-old child with a set of house keys comes with a risk that an expensive security lock will need to be replaced. If the little ones go outside to play during summer break, the door is either never locked, or every visit to the toilet involves a parent opening the door. “One solution can be provided by biometric systems,” says Alexander Nouak, head of the “Identification and Biometrics” competence center at Fraunhofer IGD. “It will make life easier for the entire family if children can open the door for themselves by means of their own physical features, such as fingerprints, faces, or hand vein patterns.”
Biometric devices are able to recognize a person by means of his or her physical features. Recently, the increased use of finger scanners on smartphones has caused some commotion; instead of entering a PIN, users unlock their cell phones by placing a fingertip on a built-in sensor. Facial recognition, as offered by some social networks, also falls into the category of biometrics. The technology is criticized time and again, as it may also be used for surveillance and is allegedly easy to overcome. Nouak agrees, for the most part, and offers a sober view on opportunities and risks. “If biometrics are used for sovereign purposes or by corporations, a knowingly critical eye must be kept on privacy and personal rights issues,” explains Nouak. “However, I am in full control of the data when using them to open my own front door. This makes it a comfort technology, making life easier for my family.”
According to Nouak, families using a high-quality system should not fear any facilitated breaking and entering. In almost all cases, it was much easier for criminals to gain access by means of a crowbar than to outsmart a biometric system. From his own experience, the family man and President of the “European Association for Biometrics” knows yet another detail: “It might be surprising, but kids often have an easier time handling biometric systems than many adults.” In his opinion, biometrics is, therefore, a good alternative to entrusting children with the key to your front door.
The social impact of biometrics is one of the topics at the EAB Research Projects Conference 2015 in Darmstadt on September 7 and 8.
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