biometric readers

Are all biometric readers the same?

Almas Team

The global biometrics market is growing at a rapid pace. Diverse worldwide needs for increased security to combat rising instances of security breaches, identity theft and data hacking are driving business to seek out authentication technologies that are reliable and difficult to fake

The global biometrics market is growing at a rapid pace. Diverse worldwide needs for increased security to combat rising instances of security breaches, identity theft and data hacking are driving business to seek out authentication technologies that are reliable and difficult to fake. With so many types of reader on offer, it is worth considering which type of readers are the most affordable and reliable.

Biometrics is a solution which has multiple methods of application. It offers convenience for users because information such as pins or passwords does not need to be remembered. There are multiple ways of using an individual’s unique characteristics as a means of access including fingerprints, finger veins, the iris, the voice and the face itself. However, not all biometric readers are created the same, so if you are considering using biometrics it is worth considering:

  • Convenience: Can the user easily approach and present their credential or biometric?
  • Acceptability: How well do the users accept interfacing with the technology and how well does it meet the level of security for the risk?
  • Speed & Accuracy: How quickly can the user get through the presentation process and how accurate is the technology when the credential or biometric is presented? (otherwise known as ‘thoughput’).
  • Environment: Where is the reader being used – indoor, outdoor, lighting, vandal prone, dirty conditions, hands-free or other unique requirements?


Fingerprint recognition is the most widely used type of biometric reader. The skin on your fingers differs from that on other areas of your body, being rough or corrugated and consisting of raised portions called ridges. These ridges do not run continuously but can curve, end or divide into two or more endings (bifurcation). Barring accidental or intentional multination, the ridge arrangement is permanent and unique characteristics known as minutiae identify those points where the ridges become bifurcated or end. Rejection and false reading rates are very low and fingerprint readers are quick to operate. Fingerprint readers are used in a wide variety of environments and can be used indoors and outdoors. Fingers cannot be lost forgotten, stolen or falsified, and the chances of someone having a fingerprint the same as you are about 1 in 64 billion. And in case you were wondering, cutting someone’s finger off and trying to use it to access a fingerprint reader won’t work because living tissue is required!


Finger vein recognition works slightly differently to fingerprint recognition, by combining two sorts of biometrics into one template (dual modal) to create a very high-security biometric reader. Finger veins, the tiny blood vessels inside your finger, are laid out in a pattern which is unique to every individual. Because finger veins are sub-dermal (below the skin), finger vein image capture uses a near-infrared light beam to traces out the vein pattern. Finger vein authentication is more accurate than fingerprint scanning and has lower rejection and false acceptance rates. It is also less invasive as it does not require the subject to place their finger in contact with a surface. Finger vein scanning does not leave behind any latent prints, so there is not the possibility of duplication or forgery, and since finger veins are sub-dermal they are not affected by wet or dry weather or age-related wrinkling. They are best suited to environments where security requirements are high and speed and accuracy is not a major concern.


Iris recognition is an automated method that uses mathematical pattern-recognition on video images of one or both irises, whose complex patterns are unique and stable. It is a very high-security technology, with a 1 in 10^78 chance that someone else has a similar pattern. It is ideally suited to hands-free environments and indoor use. The main issues are that it has a low rate of acceptance, requires the subject to be close and steady in front of the scanning device and is very expensive compared to other types of biometrics.


3D facial recognition uses distinctive features of the face – such as the curves of the eye socket, nose and chin – to identify a subject. It is non-invasive and its most high-profile application so far has been within the new iPhone X (FaceID). Apple’s Philip Schiller argued that the likelihood that someone else would be able to unlock your iPhone were ‘one in a million’, but arguments abound as with regards to effectiveness and security. Poor lighting, changes to clothing/hairstyles, the addition of facial hair or glasses, and ageing all causing issues. It is a very expensive technology to develop and use, and there are many issues with regards to data collection, processing and usage.


Voice recognition technology is a form of biometrics where a users voice is used to identify them, e.g. to allow access to personal banking information via the telephone. Its main advantages are the ability to use it remotely; that it is minimally invasive and relatively low cost to implement and maintain. Many challenges, however, affect its accuracy. These include poor-quality voice samples; variability in a speaker’s voice due to illness, mood, changes over time; background noise; and changes calling technology (e.g. digital vs. analogue). There have been a number of incidences where systems have been hacked, such as when BBC Click reporter Dan Simmons non-identical twin, Joe, was able to access his account after he mimicked his brother’s voice.

While there are many different types of biometric reader available, fingerprint and finger vein scanning still stand out as the most affordable and reliable forms of biometric control available. This is not just because they have been around for the longest, but because they offer very high rates of accuracy.

As market leaders, innovators, manufacturers and installers of biometric control systems, Almas Industries are well placed to help businesses with biometric control and security. You can arrange your free, no obligation security survey by calling us on 0333 567 66 77. If you prefer, you can always send a confidential email via [email protected].