Common biometric technologies and factors to consider when preferring biometric solutions to clients

Common biometric technologies and factors to consider when preferring biometric solutions to clients

This piece is culled from an interview Tekedia had with Mr. Felix Onyema, the CEO of Pawaak Technologies, Lagos under the Founders’ Series. We asked the questions and Mr. Onyema provided the answers.


 Common and conventional Biometric Technology.


  • Face

In a face Biometric Technology, an image can be acquired using a normal camera such as an off-the-shelf desktop camera or any Digital camera. The face is the most natural biometric for identity authentication. Users can be identified by this solution in using facial recognition techniques which may be global approach or feature based. Feature based means using the unique features of several users which is only peculiar to them to identify and recognize each individual when the matching process is applied.


  • Fingerprint

The use of Fingerprint is the oldest method of identity authentication and has been in used for criminal identification. The fingertips have corrugated skin with line like ridges flowing from one side of the finger to another. The flow of the ridges is non-continuous and forms a pattern. The discontinuity in the ridge flow gives rise to feature points, called minutiae, while the pattern of flow give rise to classification pattern such as arch or curves or hollow and  spiral and other features of the finger. These are the basis of fingerprint recognition due to mainly the differences in Individual’s minutia matching and pattern matching.


  • Iris

The Iris is another Biometric feature that is very unique to an individual, it is the coloured part of the eye, is composed of a type of tissue called trabecular meshwork which gives the appearance of layered radial lines or mesh when the iris is examined closely.

The visible mesh consists of characteristics such as striations, rings, crypts, furrows etc. giving the iris a unique pattern. The iris pattern is stable throughout the lifespan of an individual and is different for twins as well since the pattern is independent of genetic makeup. With this feature of the Iris there are no two individual that have the same characteristics even “Identical twins!”


  • Hand Geometry

The hand image is obtained using a digital camera looking from the top when the user placed his or her hand at a specified surface. This specified surface is very essential when applying the recognition and matching technique.  The hand can be aligned using pegs or reference marks. Two views are usually taken in a single image, the top view and the side view. The side view is usually taken by the top camera as well using a side mirror. From the hand image, the fingers are located and the length, width, thickness, curvatures and their relative geometry measured.


  • Voice


Voice authentication or speaker recognition uses a microphone to record the voice of a person. The recorded voice is digitized and then used for authentication. The speech can be acquired from the user enunciating a known text (text dependent) or speaking (text independent). Age, illness and environment may affect the effectiveness of voice recognition, these features or conditions are put into consideration when proffering Biometric Technology solution using Voice.


However, not all biometric Technology is suitable for identification.


There are other Biometric Technologies including Signature, Retinal Scan, DNA, Typing, Vein Pattern (such as within the Wrist, Palm or Dorsal surfaces of the hand), Thermal pattern of the Face  keystroke Dynamics, Gait (Walk, Step, Pace) Pattern, Body Odour and Ear shape.

In proffering a Biometric Technology, we recommend adopting more than one solution, a multi-modal system which combines several Biometric Technologies to increase the likelihood of finding a match will be increasingly feasible as hardware and system cost decreases to an attractive level. Each solution is designed and implemented according to the clients need and challenge.



 These factors are considered- The Issues, Potential and Challenges faced by Biometric Technology. In selecting a specific biometric technology and solution to clients the following must be considered:-

  1. Size and type of user group.
  2. Place of use and the nature of use (such as needs for mobility and location)
  3. Ease of use, and user training required and transfer of knowledge where necessary
  4. Error incidence such as due to age, environment and health condition.
  5. Security and accuracy requirement needed.
  6. User acceptance level, privacy and anonymity.
  7. Long term stability including technology maturity, standard, interoperability and technical support.
  8. Cost.

There are numerous applications for Biometric systems. Most applications currently concentrate on Security related, physical and logical Access Control and many more enhancements are underway. These include the following areas:


  • Immigration such as border control, frequent travelers, air ports,
  • Banking/Financial Services such as ATMs, Payment Terminals, Cashless Payment, Automated Cheque Cashing, etc.
  • Computer & IT Security such as Internet Transactions, PC login etc.
  • Healthcare such as privacy concern, patient information control, drug control etc.
  • Law and Order such as public ID card, voting, gun control, prison, parole etc.
  • Gatekeeper/Door Access Control such as secure installations, military, hotel building management etc.
  • Telecommunication such as telephony, mobile phone, subscription fraud, call center, games etc.
  • Time and Attendance such as school and company attendance
  • Welfare, including health care services
  • Consumer Products such as automated service machines, vault, lock-set, PDA, etc.

From what I have said above, you can see that there are so many areas Nigeria can leverage on Biometric Technology. I know it was used in the Registration of Voters using the Technique called E-Registration for the last General elections .The main essence of using this Technique of registering voters is to avoid double Registration. So I expect the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to start now to plan for using Electronic Voting process known as E-Voting to conduct the 2015 general elections. Yes, we can say that the last Election was free, fair and credible even the international community attested to that, yet we have heard and seen people trying to go to court to challenge some of the Elections, Presidential and others. But with the E-Voting, if well implemented, the issue of Election rigging will be totally eliminated. But with Technology adopted in E-Voting, it will be an impossible task to rig or manipulate elections results. PAWAAK Technologies Ltd offers to help directly or indirectly to ensure that this is achieved irrespective of the infrastructural problems and challenges in Nigeria we would proffer solutions on how it can be done efficiently and effectively to achieve the desired result. Other countries of the world like Bangladesh has used this Technology successfully, theirs is regarded as one of the highest E-Voting process in terms of voters’ numbers in the world. This can be adopted in Nigeria to avoid and prevent thuggrey, manipulations, intimidations etc. moreover, each vote will count and collation of results will be faster, easier and safer among other advantages.

Biometrics Technology can be used for Border control in Nigeria especially for frequent travelers. Help to checkmate Ghost workers, absenteeism in Federal, state, Local Government ministries and many more. I assure you with utmost sincerity and honesty there are a thousand and one areas we can leverage on this Technology in Nigeria although it is being applied in some areas but not yet enough as it can help to generate fund for Government, corporate organizations and individuals where necessary, improve productivity and guarantees safety , control Access on Restricted areas such as Bank’s vaults and Top Government offices, security agencies’ offices and premises,  car parks, create jobs,  etc .Who goes in and out and other security activities will be duly monitored and the audit trail will show who had Access at  what time, what did the person do and many more. The advantages of Biometric Technology cannot be over emphasized.

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