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The Biometric Consortium serves as the US Government's focal point for research, development, test, evaluation, and application of biometric-based personal identification/verification technology. They define Biometrics as "Automatically recognizing a person using distinguishing traits (a narrow definition):"
Biometrics refers to the automatic identification of a person based on his/her physiological or behavioral characteristics. This method of identification is preferred over current methods involving passwords and PIN numbers for various reasons: the person to be identified is required to be physically present at the point-of-identification; identification based on biometric techniques obviates the need to remember a password or carry a token. With the increased use of computers as vehicles of information technology, it is necessary to restrict access to sensitive/personal data. By replacing PINs, biometric techniques can potentially prevent unauthorized access to or fraudulent use of ATMs, cellular phones, smart cards, desktop PCs, workstations, and computer networks. PINs and passwords may be forgotten, and token based methods of identification like passports and driver's licenses may be forged, stolen, or lost. Thus biometric systems of identification are enjoying a renewed interest. Various types of biometric systems are being used for real-time identification, the most popular are based on face recognition and fingerprint matching. However, there are other biometric systems that utilize iris and retinal scan, speech, facial thermograms, and hand geometry.
The BIOTEST project is concerned with biometric technologies as used for the authentication of individuals. It is aimed at developing standard metrics for comparing biometric devices, and establishing testing facilities for such devices.
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