Epidemics like coronavirus are putting a spotlight on contactless biometrics
This is a guest post by Mohammed Murad, vice president, global sales and business development, Iris ID.
The world is in the grip of a coronavirus epidemic the impact of which extends well beyond people’s health, including more than 1,300 reported deaths. The fear of this recently identified disease has closed businesses and grounded thousands of flights. The impacts have led to estimates of reduced economic growth in many countries.
While the virus that was first discovered in a Chinese province has killed far fewer people than influenza this year, the fatality rate has people worried. Influenza reportedly kills between 10 to 20 people per 100,000 infections each year. The death rate from the coronavirus tops 2,300 deaths per 100,000 cases. Those latter statistics change virtually daily as more cases of the virus are reported.
So, how does this relate to the biometrics industry? There is a very direct relationship at locations ranging from airports using fingerprints to identify employees and passengers to businesses with similar technology for access control and time and attendance.
I was recently traveling throughout Asia, the epicenter of the coronavirus. More than once I questioned if I should put a finger or my entire hand on a scanner to quickly pass through immigration checkpoints. Disease is known to spread through shared contact with surfaces contaminated with virus and bacteria.
Many public and private organizations use contactless systems identifying people by their facial characteristics. But head to an airport or many other locations and you’ll see scores of people wearing masks, glasses and hats to protect against indirect person-to-person contamination. These wearables can easily defeat a facial recognition system.
That brings us to iris-based identity authentication systems. They are totally contactless from the enrollment process to authentications. No part of a person ever needs to come in contact with an iris reader. And iris recognition systems are widely accepted as the fastest and most accurate of the biometric technologies.
That’s why you’ll find them in growing use at airports, government facilities and businesses throughout the world. You’ll find iris-based systems at border crossings and in use for national ID programs, voter registration and many other projects.
One growing market for iris-based systems is the healthcare industry. Doctors and nurses use portable readers to accurately identify patients before beginning treatments or administering drugs. Obviously, these people know a thing or two about passing disease.
Realistically, will hundreds or thousands of people contract the coronavirus through a contact-based biometric system? Probably not, but if you were asked, or a loved one was, to use such a system today, how comfortable would you be?
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