Your Face, Fingerprints, Voice Are Your Passwords

What Are Biometrics?

Biometrics are distinctive, measurable characteristics that are used to identify us. These identifiers are categorized as physical or behavioral characteristics, related the shape of specific body parts or a pattern of behavior. Physical biometrics include fingerprints, facial structure and shape, hand geometry, iris patterns, even the shape of your ear. Behavioral biometrics refer to how we type, how we swipe our fingers on a touchscreen, our gait, or how we speak or sing.

Unlike passwords, biometrics are part of us. They can’t be forgotten, lost or borrowed. And they are not easily hackable. That’s why biometrics are more secure than passwords and convenient to use. 


A fingerprint is comprised of the ridges of the skin, or minutiae, on the tips of our fingers. These ridges are 100 percent unique, comprised of variations of loops, whorls, and arches, which can be copied using digital imagery or ink. Fingerprints have been used for centuries to mark or sign documents, or even as personal seals in clay pottery.


The shape of the face is a very unique physical characteristic. Using computer vision technology, facial structure and shape can be identified and categorized, with specific “landmark” features, including the relative position and shape of the nose, eyes, jaw, and mouth. Advances in facial imaging today allow for 3D images, increasing the complexity and accuracy of face recognition algorithms.


Voice, or speech recognition, relies on specific characteristics of the spoken word. These include acoustic patterns, based on the size and shape of the mouth and throat, and behavioral characteristics, such as pitch, tone, and speaking style.


Iris patterns are considered one of our most unique characteristics. Even identical twins, whose face and voice might match, have irises that don’t. Due to varying eye colors, iris patterns are best recorded in the near-infrared spectrum. These devices product black and white imagery that produces much clearer photos of the iris than the natural light spectrum can.


Behavioral biometrics, such as typing patterns and gait, are the latest development in biometric technology. The ability to record the length and pace of how we walk, or the specific way we type, allows for what is called continuous authentication, which can be used to verify identity over time, rather than during a single authentication session.

Learn more about the "Top Biometric Identifiers" in our webinar.