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Biometric Devices 101: Definition and Examples

Biometric Post
Sep 15, 2022
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Biometric Post
Biometric Devices 101: Definition and Examples

The use of a biometric devices is so pervasive in our everyday lives that even if you are unaware of its existence, you have probably interacted with one in a variety of scenarios, such as when you went to work and used your face to access the building gate or when you paid for something using your fingerprints, just to name a few examples.

It's becoming more and more clear that biometrics technologies and a wide variety of devices will play a key role in keeping us safe while making our lives easier and more convenient.

As we move into the age of digital identity, knowing what a biometric device is and how it works could be quite beneficial to you. You may use this information to increase your awareness when utilizing biometric devices, as well as to make better decisions about which devices to buy and deploy when necessary.

In this article, we talk about the different types of biometric devices that are on the market today, how they work, and give you examples so that you can choose the best biometric device for your needs.


What are Biometric Devices?

A biometric device is an electronic device that uses biometric identifiers to identify and verify individuals.

Different types of biometric devices include fingerprint scanner, mobile ID terminal, and facial recognition terminal.
Different types of biometric devices include fingerprint scannersbiometric mobile devices, and facial recognition terminals.

Biometrics devices have built-in biometric capturing sensors that use a variety of sensing technologies to collect a person's unique physical or behavioral traits, such as fingerprints, facial features, palm prints, iris scans, hand geometry, vocal patterns, human gaits, and other biometric identifiers.

Biometric devices can be found anywhere, including:

  • Airports
  • Banks
  • Government buildings
  • Hospitals
  • Offices
  • Schools

and more.

Biometric hardware devices are increasingly widespread; according to Meticulous Research®, the market for biometric systems (including biometric hardware products and software products) will be worth $51.6 billion by 2029. From 2022 to 2029, the CAGR is 12.4%.

Biometric systems (including hardware and software) 2022-2029 by Meticulous Research®
Biometric systems (including hardware and software) market 2022-2029 by Meticulous Research®

The growth of the biometric system market is expected to be led by the growth of biometric devices. This segment is expanding in the global biometrics industry due to a growing demand for mobile biometrics devices, more attention is being paid to hardware-centric security features, and biometric technology is being used more and more in consumer electronics for biometric authentication and biometric identification purposes.

What are the Types of Biometric Devices

Biometric devices are becoming increasingly popular for identification and authentication, utilizing multiple methods to identify a person such as fingerprint recognition, facial detection, palm vein scanning, iris recognition, and even voice recognition.

We've compiled a list of various biometrics devices for you to consider as you search for the best solution for your needs.

  • Contact biometric devices
  • Contactless biometric devices
  • Hybrid or combination biometric devices

1) Contact Biometric Devices

Contact biometric devices are a type of biometric device that requires physical contact to collect your biometric data. This type of device is typically used to collect fingerprints or palm prints with an electronic sensor.

Contact biometric devices can be classified into three types, which are commonly found on the market, as follows:

Fingerprint scanners

Fingerprint scanners are the most common type of contact biometric devices. There are two main types of fingerprint scanners.

Optical fingerprint scanners:

The first type of fingerprint scanner uses optical technology to scan images of fingerprints. It scans your fingers with LED light to find a change in the pattern of reflected light, which triggers an electrical signal that is then turned into digital data.

3 types of optical fingerprint scanners by Aratek Biometrics including single-finger scanner, two-finger scanner and 4-4-2 fingerprint scanner
3 types of optical fingerprint scanners by Aratek Biometrics

Capacitive fingerprint scanners:

In another type of fingerprint scanner, capacitive sensors are used to measure changes in electrical current caused by changes in how well the skin conducts electricity.

Capacitive fingerprint scanners by Aratek Biometrics
Capacitive fingerprint scanners by Aratek Biometrics

Fingerprint scanners are a type of biometric device that has been in use for quite some time. It is an extremely useful tool for registering and verifying identity in a variety of situations, including obtaining a national ID, registering to vote, banking, registering a SIM card, protecting cyber security, and so on. Furthermore, the biometric system can provide security against the use of fake or spoofed fingerprints, which is a major concern in the field of biometrics, using the biometric liveness detection technique.

Last, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, some more contactless fingerprint scanners have recently hit the market to provide a more hygienic way to authenticate identity with high quality fingerprint images.

✅ Palm print scanners

Palm print scanners are a form of contact biometric device that take an image of your palm and then use that image to verify your identification. These scanners capture an image of your palm using a optical image sensor. It works similarly to a fingerprint scanner, except it reads your palm instead.

A palm print scanner by Papillon Systems
A palm print scanner / Image by Papillon Systems

Palm print scanners can identify a person by reading their unique palm vein patterns biometric data and comparing it to a database of already-established patterns. These scanners have been around since the early 2000s, and they are frequently utilized in locations that require a high level of security, such as government buildings and military bases.

✅ Hand geometry scanners

Hand geometry scanners are used to identify people by measuring the size and shape of their hands.

These devices have a plat with embedded pins (pegs) that guide the position of the human hand to achieve the best results. After you place your hand, the charge-coupled device (CCD) cameras capture an image of it, which is then compared to a template stored in the device's memory. If your hand geometry biometric data matches the template, the device will unlock.

A hand geometry scanners image by Bayometric
A hand geometry scanner / Image by Bayometric

Hand geometry devices are utilized in a variety of biometric authentication systems and applications, including but not limited to the following: identification verification, time and attendance tracking, and physical access control.

2) Contactless Biometric Devices

Contactless biometric devices can capture your biometric data without having to touch you.

Contactless or touchless biometric devices can be divided into three types that are widely available on the market:

✅ Facial recognition terminals

Today, facial recognition terminals may be the most widely used contactless biometric device.

Contactless biometric device: A gate type facial recognition terminal by Aratek Biometrics
Contactless biometric device: A gate type facial recognition terminal by Aratek Biometrics

Facial recognition terminals capture your face images using specialized cameras such as HDR or IR cameras. These cameras can detect facial features such as your eyes, nose, mouth, and even skin tone. When in use, a facial recognition terminal can instantly scan your face as you pass by in real time. Following the acquisition of an image of your face, facial recognition software algorithms are used to determine your identity based on the facial features that were caught on camera and compared to a database of previously seen faces. If a match is found, your identity can be confirmed.

Some advanced facial recognition devices, like the Aratek BA8300 biometric access control device, can also read contactless RFID cards, which adds another layer of security and makes sure that access control is done correctly and reliably. With two-factor authentication, the RFID access control card reader adds another level of security to make sure that only authorized people can get into sensitive areas. This keeps your property safe from possible threats and unwelcome visitors.

During the COVID-19 period, facial recognition terminals quickly became the most common type of security identification device used for biometric access control systems. This was mainly due to the fact that facial recognition terminals do not require any form of physical contact and have a wide range of capabilities. Infrared sensors and mask detection algorithms, for example, could be seamlessly integrated into these terminals to measure your body temperature and detect whether or not that you is wearing a mask while your face is being scanned. It's an efficient solution of controlling building entries, as it can notify instantly if someone has contracted an infectious disease, making public spaces safer.

Aratek facial recognition terminal with body temperature measurement and mask detection
Aratek facial recognition terminal with body temperature measurement and mask detection to control access

Today, face recognition terminals are becoming more widespread in public places such as airports and shopping malls to improve access control security. These secure devices enable you to access buildings or checkpoints without doing or touching anything other than showing your face and walking by, making life easy while also keeping you safe.

✅ Iris scanners

Iris scanners are also a common type of contactless biometric device. These devices captures your iris of the eye with a near-infrared light camera to perform iris recognition. Your iris contains information that is only identifiable to you, this allows iris scanners to identify you based on the distinct pigmentation patterns (the coloration of the iris) that are present in your iris.

An iris scanner image by Wikipedia
An iris scanner performing iris recognition / Image by Wikipedia

Iris scanners and iris recognition are useful for identifying people in a quick and accurate manner. These biometric devices are used as a contactless solution by a variety of organizations including law enforcement agencies, banks, hospitals, airports, government offices, border patrol agents, and others. These devices are also have been utilized for the purpose of identification in a variety of nations, including India, Mexico, the United States of America, and many more.

✅ Palm vein scanners

Palm vein scanners are a type of contactless biometric device that capture an image of the veins in your palm by using near-infrared light to illuminate the veins in your hand (the network of blood vessels underneath palm skin). This picture of your hand veins biometric data can be matched to a database in order to confirm your identity within vein pattern recognition process.

A palm vein scanner by Fujitsu
A palm vein scanner by Fujitsu

Because palm vein scanners are accurate and don't require any physical contact with the user, they have become increasingly popular in recent years. This makes it the ideal choice for use in security applications in a wide variety of settings, particularly in places like hospitals, airports, and office buildings that require a higher level of hygiene and safety.

✅ Retina scanners

A retina scanner is a biometric machine that emits a beam of low-energy infrared light into your eye to perform retinal scans while you look through the eyepiece. This makes an image of the tiny capillaries in your retina, which are vessels of blood in the back of your eye. A biometric map can be made from this image, which can be used to figure out who you are.

Eye anatomy showing the position of the iris and retina
Eye anatomy showing the position of the iris and retina

There are no retina scanners on the biometric market because this biometric technology is still new and building them is expensive compared to other types of equipment.

While there have been mentions and depictions of retina scanners in various media and online sources, a closer examination reveals discrepancies in their representation. For instance, systems like BAT and HIIDE, often cited as retina scanners, actually utilize iris scanning technology. Similarly, devices such as the LG Iris IrisAccess® 3000, which have been mistakenly labeled as retina scanners in some images, are in fact dedicated iris scanners. It's crucial to differentiate between these two ocular biometrics.

Some examples of iris scanners being misrepresented as retina scanners
Some examples of iris scanners being misrepresented as retina scanners

As of now (2024), the retina scanning technology primarily finds its application in retinal diagnostics, like the Eidon retinal scanner, rather than biometric authentication. This distinction underscores the fact that genuine retina scanners for biometric purposes are yet to make a significant presence in the market.

3) Hybrid biometric devices

A hybrid biometric device, or multi-biometric device is one that captures and verifies an individual's identity using two or more biometric modalities.

✅ Multi-factor handheld biometric device

Biometric handheld mobile devices, like the ones law enforcement officers use at airports or voter registration workers use at polling places, often use hybrid biometric or multi-factor authentication to identify and verify people. This makes the identification process more accurate and secure. People can use these mobile biometric devices to scan fingerprints and other biometrics to get accurate information about someone without having to take them into custody.

Aratek Marshall 8 tablet: The hybrid biometric device has facial recognition and fingerprint recognition.
Aratek Marshall 8 Biometric tablet: The hybrid biometric device combines facial recognition and fingerprint recognition

✅ Multi-factor facial recognition terminals

In access control applications, for example, deploying a multifaceted facial recognition terminal with an embedded fingerprint sensor module to perform fingerprint recognition is a great approach to provide stronger security. It could do "1:N" identification first to identify "who you are," then add a second factor to ask you to scan your fingerprint to perform "1:1" authentication to answer "Are You Who You Say You Are?" This makes it more difficult for unauthorized users to gain access to secured areas.

A multifaceted facial recognition terminal with an embedded fingerprint sensor module by Aratek Biometrics
A multifaceted facial recognition terminal with an embedded fingerprint sensor module by Aratek Biometrics

Fingerprint, iris, and facial recognition are the most frequent biometric modalities used in hybrid devices. In comparison to single-modality devices, hybrid biometric devices have various advantages:

  • First, they can provide a higher level of security because they use multi-biometric authentication data to authenticate users; adding a second or third biometric attribute makes it more difficult to fake than just one. Furthermore, some devices use the biometric liveness detection technique which help to prevent biometric spoofing and add an extra layer of security.
  • Second, because each modality can provide its own unique verification template, they can be more accurate than single-modality devices.
  • Third, hybrid devices can be more durable than single-modality devices because they can continue to work even if one of the biometric modalities fails.

Overall, hybrid biometric devices provide several benefits over single-modality devices, including increased security, accuracy, and robustness.

Where are Biometric Devices Used? Examples and Benefits

In todays world, the use of biometric devices is becoming more and more common. They have a variety of applications, ranging from those dealing with security to those dealing with healthcare.

Here are some of the top five industries that use biometric devices to identify customers, verify users, increase security, and do a variety of other things. We'll show how they're using biometric devices to address challenges and reap the benefits of this adoption.

1) Banking

The quality of customer service and the safety of financial transactions are both being improved thanks to the use of biometric devices in banks. For instance, fingerprint scanners and fingerprint recognition technology systems being used by financial banks to confirm the identities of their customers. Because of the improved KYC process, this helps reduce the risk of identity theft, fraud and money laundering. In addition, fingerprint scanners are utilized in the verification process of financial transactions like account transfers.

Banks are also started to deploy facial recognition systems as an additional safeguard against clients engaging in fraudulent transactions, and Indian financial institutions have begun to use iris scanners and iris recognition technology as a new way of identify verification.

Aratek A600 fingerprint scanner used for India's AePS Aadhaar payment
Aratek A600 mobile fingerprint scanner used for India's AePS Aadhaar payment

These biometric devices allow clients to access their accounts without having to remember and enter a password, making financial transactions both safer and more convenient for users.

2) Healthcare

Biometric devices have been used by doctors and nurses for years to identify patients and keep track of their health records. For example, fingerprint scanners are used by doctors to collect biometric information in the form of fingerprints. This information is kept in databases and used to find out if a patient has been diagnosed with a certain illness.

Furthermore, in the post-Covid pandemic time, contactless biometric devices such as facial recognition terminals and iris scanners are becoming increasingly popular in healthcare sectors.

A hospital has facial recognition terminals installed.
A hospital has facial recognition terminals installed for access control

According to Meticulous study, from 2022 to 2029, the healthcare segment is expected to grow at the quickest CAGR in the biometric system market. The increasing prevalence of healthcare data breaches and medical identity theft, as well as the use of contactless biometric authentication systems and the integration of biometric solutions in healthcare settings in emerging economies, are projected to drive the growth of this category.

3) Government

Government agencies use biometrics for a range of security identification purposes, including national ID, civil identity, voting, social assistance, border security, and others. For example, the Department of Homeland Security in the United States uses fingerprint scanners and iris scanners to verify the identity of those who enter the country. Furthermore, the Indian government uses fingerprints biometric system and related authentication data to manage social security programs like the Public Distribution System (PDS) in order to provide better services to citizens while reducing fraud. Moreover, biometric mobile devices and the device management system are used in many African countries with automated biometric identification systems to enroll, digitally register, and authenticate voters during elections.

An example of biometric devices being used-Biometric Voter Registration
An example of biometric devices being used-Biometric Voter Registration

Government is another sector that could benefit greatly from biometric technology. Hackers and fraudsters, as previously indicated, are stealing critical information from government databases. If biometric technology was available, governmental agencies could quickly determine whether a person attempting to use public services was authorized to do so, ensuring efficiency and integrity.

4) Retail

In the retail industry, using facial recognition terminals can improve customer experience by providing customer details and personalized recommendations based on facial features. When a customer approaches a facial recognition terminal in your store, all they have to do is look into the camera, and the system recognizes who they are and displays relevant product information that they may be interested in.

Facial recognition terminals in retail stores can also help prevent theft by scanning faces against a database of known criminals. Retail stores that use facial recognition terminals can improve security by identifying individuals who are not permitted to enter the store. Repeat offenders can also be identified and prevented from returning to the store using these devices.

Embed from Getty Images

Using biometric devices in the retail sector can increase security against theft and fraud while also boosting consumer happiness.

5) Transportation

The transportation industry is utilizing biometric devices on their management systems to identify drivers and passengers as they travel through bus stations, airports, and other public transportation locations.

Many transportation companies, for example, use license plate readers and face recognition devices to track driver behavior and predict future incidents. In addition, biometric devices can track passenger movements in real time, allowing transportation companies to improve security by identifying potential threats before they board an airplane or enter a train station.

Embed from Getty Images

Furthermore, airline companies are continuing testing with other contactless biometric devices like iris scanners and palm vein scanners to confirm passengers' identities. With this, passengers could board planes without producing identification documents.

The transportation industry is still exploring the potential benefits of biometric technology in terms of increasing security and customer satisfaction.

Get Ready for Biometric Devices

Biometric devices are having a significant impact on a variety of industries as they become more common.

These devices, which identify individuals based on physical or behavioral characteristics of the human body such as fingerprints, irises, or palm veins, are more secure and convenient than traditional methods of identification and are thus gaining popularity in industries such as healthcare, government, and retail.

As biometric devices and biometric technologies advance, we can expect even more significant changes in the way we live and work in the future.

So, will you utilize biometric devices into your business and benefit from the convenience they provide? Contact our team of experts to learn more about how biometric devices can work for you.

Biometric Devices FAQs

✅ What are biometric devices?

They are electrical devices used for biometric verification, identification and authentication. They could be used to identify people based on their unique human features such as fingerprints, iris scans, facial traits, and so on.

✅ Who uses biometric devices?

Since there are many distinct categories of biometric devices, each with its own niche application and set of users, there is no simple solution to this problem. However, the government and law enforcement, financial institutions, businesses, and healthcare providers are some of the most frequent users of biometric devices.

✅ Why should you buy biometric devices?

There are several reasons why you should buy biometric devices. First, biometrics can provide a more secure method of authenticating users. Second, biometric devices are becoming more affordable and simple to use, which makes them an ideal choice for a wide range of applications. Finally, biometrics can provide a convenient way for users to access your applications.


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