Every business stores sensitive data on their servers. Ensuring that their business’s data does not get into wrong hands is every manager’s top priority. One way to achieve this objective is by declaring sensitive data storage areas off-limits to employees who do not, in any way, contribute to data collection or processing. To ensure only authorized personnel have access to these areas, businesses use biometric access control systems.


Biometric access control: An introduction


A biometric access control system is designed to identify people based on their physical characteristics such as fingerprint, DNA, facial patterns, retinas and irises, and voice patterns. After scanning a person’s specific physical characteristics, biometric access control systems goes through its database to find a match. Once the system verifies that the person requesting access is authorized to enter the area, it opens the door.

Given that the likelihood of two people having the same physical characteristics is almost nil,  biometric access control systems are highly effective. Additionally, personal traits are challenging to replicate. Earlier these systems were exclusively used by government organizations. Thanks to their effectiveness, biometric access control systems have gone mainstream and are now used by businesses from different backgrounds and industries.


Almost all biometric systems use the below three steps:



This step involves capturing user data. The first time a user uses a biometric system, it records necessary information related to them, such as their employee ID or name. The system also captures an image or recording of the person’s specific trait.


A biometric system does not store images or recordings of user traits. Instead, the system translates the specific trait into a code or graph. This data is stored in the system’s database.


The final step involves comparing traits presented by users to the information stored in their database.



To perform the above tasks, most biometric systems use three components: a software (that analyzes the characteristics, translates them into codes or graphs, and then presents the comparisons), a sensor designed to detect the characteristic used for identification, and a computer that studies and stores information.


Benefits of biometric access control systems


Some substantial advantages of biometric access systems are:

  • High accuracy and efficiency
  • Helps promote accountability
  • Scalability
  • Convenience (both for users, as they don’t have to remember and feed password into the system every time and the maintenance team members, as they don’t have to reset passwords and change IDs frequently).


Different types of biometric access control systems


Fingerprint scanners

Fingerprint scanners are designed to analyze the ridges and bridges found on the surface tips of human fingers. Given the fact that finger ridge configurations usually do not change with time (except in the case of damage due to an accident), fingerprint authentication is considered to be one of the most effective biometric identification methods. While conventional fingerprint scanners scan the actual print, advanced systems are capable of studying a range of features.


Some benefits of fingerprint scanners include:

  • Easy to install and use (no additional training required)
  • Affordability and mobility
  • Highly effective (no two fingers have the same dermal ridge traits)
  • Minimum storage requirements
  • Helps promote accountability by leaving an audit trail.
  • Low maintenance cost
  • Helps save time and efforts


Vascular scanners

The foundation of vascular biometrics is a unique property of hemoglobin, which is that it glows when exposed to near-infrared light. Vascular biometrics offers an additional layer of security above that provided by fingerprint scanners. Vascular scanners are usually used in highly sensitive areas and they use near-red infrared light to scan and analyze vein patterns in the human finger or palm. This pattern is unique to every individual. Such scanners enroll subjects and store vein patterns as biometric templates. When a subject presents themselves for authentication, the system matches the black lines of the infrared image with the registered pattern in its database.


Some benefits of vascular biometrics include:

  • High accuracy
  • Low maintenance
  • Non-intrusive (subjects do not have to touch the vascular biometric device).
  • Reliability (because vein patterns are unique, replicating them is nearly impossible).
  • Vein patterns do not deteriorate with time.


Facial recognition systems

Facial recognition involves identifying and analyzing the facial features/patterns of subjects. Facial recognition systems use algorithms to convert facial features into data that is stored in the database. Facial recognition captures a picture of subjects. Next, the software studies important factors such as the distance between the subject’s eyes and the distance from forehead to the chin that define the person’s facial geometry. In the final step, the system compares the individual’s facial signature with characteristics of other faces in its database.


Benefits of facial recognition

  • High accuracy
  • Better security
  • Hassle-free integration


Iris scanners

Iris scanning involves identifying the unique characteristics of a subject’s iris. Iris scanners use infrared light to illuminate the subject’s iris to pick up unique patterns. For enhanced accuracy, iris scanners exclude specular reflections, eyelashes, and eyelids.


Proponents of the technology claim the following benefits of iris recognition:

  • High accuracy
  • Reliability
  • User friendliness
  • Swift matching


Voice-activated access control systems


Voice authentication involves matching a subject’s voice with templates stored in the system’s database. The person requesting access has to speak a phrase, which is compared with the previously stored voiceprint.


Some benefits of voice recognition include

  • Eliminates the need for remembering passwords and carrying badges
  • High accuracy



Now that you know all about Biometric Access Control Systems, let’s expand further. See 6 Reasons to Consider Fingerprint Authentication As An Access Control Method.