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3. Biometric authentication

Biometric authentication uses the unique physical characteristics of an individual to verify their identity.

There are various things about your body that make you unique, these include

  • Your fingerprints
  • The iris pattern in your eyes
  • The way you speak
  • The way you gesture and press on a touch screen
  • The details of your face

When one (or more) these are measured by a computer or mobile device, it is called 'biometric authentication'.



Biometric authentication is now common on smart phones. For example the main button on some phones doubles up as a fingerprint scanner. When you press it, it checks your fingerprint against a copy that you have previously stored in the phone's memory.

If the fingerprint is recognised then the screen is unlocked. If the fingerprint is not recognised then the phone will ask the user to enter a PIN number.



The system scans the iris pattern in your eyes for authentication. For example some laptops allow you to log in by simply staring at the built in camera. If the biometric data it has stored matches what the camera sees, then the computer will unlock and allow you access.



Some banks now use voice recognition to authenticate someone using their online services. This is done by mobile phone.


Gesture and pressure

Because touch screens are now widely used, it is possible to record the gesture action and pressure used by a person making their signature. This information can be used for authentication.


Challenge see if you can find out one extra fact on this topic that we haven't already told you

Click on this link: Fingerprint scanner