More Powerful Than PIN Numbers and Passwords

November, 2002

Your own personal identity is the best source of security. That is why biometric technology is becoming more common in Hawaii and across the nation. Biometrics identifies people through their voice patterns, fingerprints, and facial and retina structures. When an iris is first scanned, the technology creates a mathematical equation, based on about 266 identifiable points of recognition. To successfully identify the iris again and again, at least 150 of the markers need to match that pre-set equation. For a fingerprint to match, the technology must match 70 out of 100.

The sale of biometrics products is expected to balloon to $1.9 billion by the year 2005, according to the New York-based research firm, International Biometric Group. Sales in the year 2000 were $399 million.

This year, the 2002 Hawaii International Biometrics Conference is expected to draw hundreds of scientists and technology experts to the Sheraton Waikiki Resort from Nov. 10 to 13. The event, hosted by Windward Community College and the Pacific Center for Advanced Technology Training, is the first of its kind for the state. High-profile leaders from state and federal agencies, the military and private sectors will address the latest trends, as well as legal and ethical issues related to biometrics.

Today, medical facilities, airports and local companies are turning to biometrics and doing away with old forms of identification – PIN numbers and passwords, for instance. “The Board of Water Supply has smart cards now, and the County of Maui is also doing a major project to incorporate the latest technology into their overall protection system,” says Patrick O’Brien, president and chief executive officer of Security Resources, a 2-year-old biometrics company in Halawa Valley. “Biometrics was around even before Sept. 11, but people now see the need for the technology.” -CSC

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Cathy S. Cruz