Face Value: Biometrics and Our Bodies

Fingerprints, faces, voices, and even the color pattern of irises have been used as some form of biometrics to analyze and confirm a person’s unique physical characteristics for identification. And while most of us are familiar with smart phones and laptops that use facial recognition or a fingerprint scanner to make payments or log in, the future use of biometric technology looks very cool and fun – and maybe a little dark. Instead of being relegated to mobile payments and access to our computers, biometrics are now being geared to create “invisible transactions” for many of the processes we grumble about today. For example, large theme parks such as Disney and Six Flags have invested in wristband chip technology to serve as ticket, hotel room key, as well as offer access to in-park amenities like charging food to your room or using the highly coveted “fast pass” lane for rides. biometrics and our bodies This concept of embedded payments accessed seamlessly and without involving an employee means an invisible transaction is in use. With some modifications, this model may soon relieve the ultra-frustrating experience of air travel. Facial recognition passports at “smart gates” would code your identity to your luggage, requiring only regular security and immigration processing if necessary. Now the bad. Biometric identities could soon be stored in the cloud and shared across multiple platforms by different governments, meaning a lot of people will have access to them, and a tempting target for cyber terrorists. What happens if these systems are hacked? You can change your password but you can't change your face. The unconscionable possibility that body parts, either real or manufactured, could be used in place of the person they belong to for access to resources is a concept we all hope stays in the movies. biometrics and our bodies That said, biometrics are by far the best option we have going right now for securing and streamlining processes related to personal identities, and problems with protecting our identities will surely determine how biometrics are implemented and accessed in the future.