For most of us, on any given day, we engage with multiple different authentication systems. To leave your home, you likely lock a door behind you with some kind of key. You unlocked a vehicle with perhaps a different kind of electronic key. You swiped a badge or clocked in with an employee card, and when you started work on your computer, you used a number of different alphanumeric passwords to get access to the software, accounts or websites you need. These authentication methods rely either on a physical item like a key, or knowledge of passwords and pin numbers. In some cases, it might even be both, with two-factor authentication (or 2FA) requiring you to validate a login with a text message or app on your mobile device.
All of these methods individually are reasonable, simple to use and relatively secure. The major failing of both of these types of authentication however, is the level of complexity which increases with every separate system you try to authenticate with. For every additional door that requires a physical key, the weight of objects you carry increases, or the chance that you will lose one either accidentally or because someone stole the item becomes a greater risk. For memory based systems, inevitably people end up with a small number of passwords that they reuse over and over for different accounts due to the impossible complexity of remembering a unique password for every single system that requires one.
Biometric authentication refers to any type of authentication which uses unique physical or behavioral characteristics – such as a fingerprint or voiceprint. The advantages of biometric systems are many – unlike a physical key, you will always have it with you. Unlike a short password, a biometric key has magnitudes more information contained within your personal information, and can’t be forgotten easily. Stealing and reproducing your biometric information is also more challenging than with more traditional methods of authentication.
Any biometric authentication system requires some kind of sensor which takes a particular type of biometric data and converts it into a digital signature. The data is matched against the existing biometric data in your file to verify your identity. The most common example of biometric authentication would be using your fingerprint to unlock a smartphone.
Systems like Intel® RealSense™ ID offer a number of advantages over other biometric authentication types. Our faces are unique – the distance from different features to each other can be used to create a biometric key. Using the face for identification is a better user experience than most of the other methods above, requiring no physical contact and less time to unlock.
More advanced systems use more complex sensors that create a 3D image or print of the face, which make it much more challenging to spoof with a 2D image or even video. Intel RealSense ID uses dual cameras with an infrared projector to allow for the creation of a complex digital key that represents the user’s face without ever storing their image directly. This digital key is then encrypted, and stored either on device or a remote user database, but on device encryption with a secure element means that reverse engineering a user’s faceprint key even from stolen or hacked data would be extremely difficult.
The design of Intel RealSense ID’s system also make it very challenging to spoof even with a 3D printed mask. While it may be easy to get a photo or even multiple photos of a person, obtaining the right data to be able to match with what the devices detect is much more challenging. Additionally, Intel RealSense ID is designed to adapt over time, using each verified authentication to help build a more accurate digital key to match against, so changing hairstyles, weight loss or gain, different styles or beard growth doesn’t mean you are locked out of your home.
Because Intel RealSense ID uses infrared sensors and emitters, it also works well in a wide variety of lighting situations, both indoors and outdoors even in bright sunlight or near darkness. With a wide vertical field of view and the ability to recognize you from many different angles and positions, it’s a system that works well for everyone, everywhere.
Intel RealSense ID has some similarity with fingerprint authentication in that it requires a unique physical device to be used though each device can support hundreds or thousands of users. This makes it suitable for applications such as banking or gate access control. Your bank could allow you to enroll for ATM access in a matter of seconds and that enrollment could then allow you to securely use any ATM they owned around the world without the need for a debit card or a pin number. Additionally, because the system adapts to changes in your appearance, no matter what your look today, you will still be authenticated accurately tomorrow or years from now.
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