Biometrics researchers see world without passwords (Update)

November 12, 2013 by Michael Conroy

Some Purdue University researchers are working on technology that could see all those passwords that computer users must punch in replaced with steps such as iris and fingerprint scans.

The basement lab of Purdue University's International Center for Biometrics Research is where such emerging biometric technologies are tested for weaknesses before going mainstream.

Iris and fingerprint scans as well as facial and voice recognition are just a few of the tools that can improve security while making lives easier, said Stephen Elliott, the center's director.

That technology can allow someone to log into a computer or activate a smartphone simply by swiping their fingerprint over a sensor—and eliminate the need to frequently change passwords.

"I think the average person would tell you they have too many passwords and it's a hassle to change them all the time, and therefore they use the same password for lots of things, which inherently makes that easier to break," Elliott said.

Biometrics is already in use at a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in West Lafayette, where workers punch in by putting their finger on a fingerprint scanner attached to their cash register.

Chris Smith, the restaurant's assistant manager, said passwords were sometimes shouted out among workers and that the fingerprint system improves the security of cash registers by better limiting access.

And the system means one less password workers have to memorize.

"I'm sure that they have a hundred that they have to remember for their things at home—their online banking and whatnot," Smith said. "So it's just one more ease for them that they don't have to have."

Elliott said that while many people now consider such scanners something out of the movies, he believes computer passwords could someday be a thing of the past.

"I think once people see the things in consumer's hands—the biometrics in there—then we'll just see people try to push other deployments of biometrics, because it's easier," he said.

Explore further: Researchers advance biometric security

Related Stories

Researchers advance biometric security

June 21, 2012

Researchers in the Biometric Technologies Laboratory at the University of Calgary have developed a way for security systems to combine different biometric measurements—such as eye colour, face shape or fingerprints—and ...

IDair has a fingerprint scanner from standoff distance

June 24, 2012

Researchers are exploring better designs in biometrics to meet business and government demands for reliable identification and verification tools. Out of the many biometric technologies that continue to be works in progress, ...

Shifty, but secure eyes

August 29, 2012

A biometric security system based on how a user moves their eyes is being developed by technologists in Finland. Writing in the International Journal of Biometrics, the team explains how a person's saccades, their tiny, but ...

iPhone 5S fingerprint scanning: Thumbs up or down?

September 13, 2013

Technology to acquire and use biometric data such as fingerprints has been around for several decades and has made its way from forensic investigation to laptop computers – and now, with this week's introduction of iPhone ...

Biometrics must respond to human aging

November 6, 2013

The accuracy and reliability of systems which identify individuals from biometric characteristics, such as facial image, fingerprints or handwriting, could be significantly compromised if we do not take account of the effects ...

Recommended for you

Interactive tool lifts veil on the cost of nuclear energy

August 24, 2015

Despite the ever-changing landscape of energy economics, subject to the influence of new technologies and geopolitics, a new tool promises to root discussions about the cost of nuclear energy in hard evidence rather than ...

Smart home heating and cooling

August 28, 2015

Smart temperature-control devices—such as thermostats that learn and adjust to pre-programmed temperatures—are poised to increase comfort and save energy in homes.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.