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How to choose the right biometric modality

How to choose the right biometric modality
Despite its increasing popularity, there is still some confusion among customers on what factors to consider when selecting a biometric access control solution. The article provides a list of major points to consider when selecting a biometric modality.
Despite its increasing popularity, there is still some confusion among customers on what factors to consider when selecting a biometric access control solution. Given the different technologies available on the market today, such as fingerprint, facial, and iris recognition, customers are not always sure which is best for their project. 
Below is a list of five major points to consider when selecting a biometric modality. Although these can be considered general criteria for selection, it should be understood that there is no single best modality for all types of projects. Factors such as location, environment, and the behavior of the people using the solution will determine which is most suitable.


Accuracy is a broad term but it is clearly one of the most important factors for customers.  Accuracy is usually measured by metrics such as false acceptance rate, error rate, identification rate, and false rejection rate, among others. 

Acceptance among users

This is where the behavior of the users is important. Many people consider the use of fingerprint sensors unhygienic. Fingerprint sensors may also be useless in industries where people handle materials that make it difficult for clear scanning. Contactless technology would be more suitable in such situations. 
Other factors like culture should also be taken into consideration. According to a blog post from M2Sys, “User acceptance is the linchpin of biometric identification management deployment success.
“Certain biometric modalities may have a stigma associated with them (e.g. fingerprint biometrics and criminality) which can negatively impact user perception in certain cultures. Understanding which modalities are acceptable versus those that may cause user acceptance issues is important.”

Protection against spoofing

As biometric solutions become more popular, so do attempts to breach security. Direct attacks wherein a person tries to access restricted areas through interaction with the input device is a serious issue. Known as spoofing attacks, these pose a major threat to security. Any access control solution that you choose should have strong anti-spoofing protection. 


Cost is perhaps the single most important consideration for the average customer. 
M2Sys says “Cost is an important factor to consider when choosing the best and most effective biometric hardware modality. 
“Depending on the underlying technology and hardware characteristics, certain modalities may be more cost-effective than others. It’s important to recognize that an initial investment in biometrics can and is quite often recouped in a short amount of time to achieve fast return on investment (ROI).”


The place where an access control solution is installed also plays a major role in its accuracy. For instance, facial or iris recognition may not work properly in low-light environments. Before deciding on a modality, consider these factors and, if needed, make modifications to the environment like adding extra lights for better results. 


How many devices you need to install should also be considered. This is where costs, as well as speed and accuracy, become important. Large projects, like the national identification system of India, use fingerprint as well as iris recognition for accuracy and ease of use. 

Bottom line

Fingerprint remains the most popular modality on the market, due to its early acceptance and cost. But reports indicate that some industries, like the financial sector, are moving beyond this to the likes of vascular biometrics for better accuracy. Iris recognition is also becoming popular in several sectors because of its relatively high level of accuracy. There is also increasing interest in two-factor authentication.
In the end, any decision should be taken after careful consideration of the factors mentioned above. 

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