Biometric Discrimination
Power: Is It Mostly Hype?


Biometrics have been widely accepted as powerful tools in combatting terriorism. However, there is recent evidence that biometric systems are not nearly as powerful as the media indicates, and certainly not as powerful as advertised by the companies making the products.

Last year's project teams investigated freeware and licenced biometric products, see Investigation of Freeware Biometric Products and Investigation of Two Licenced Biometric Products, which were presented at Research Day 2011.


This semester we will investigate whether biometric systems are truly powerful or whether they are over hyped by the media as well as by the creators of biometric products.

The project team will

The key parameters to obtain on a user verification product are Accuracy (e.g., EER) will decrease as the population of users increases - for example, there is a huge difference between a class of 30 students (e.g., taking online tests) and the roughly 300 million population of the United States. Accuracy (e.g., EER) will also decrease as the quality of the data samples degrades - for example, it can be difficult to identify someone from a partial or smudged fingerprint. Biometric equipment manufacturers typically quote accuracy figures from controlled experiments on a small population of users and clean high resolution biometric samples.

It is anticipated that the final deliverable of this team will be an article that exposes the media and manufacturer hype relating to these products.

The project team can also reexamine the face and fingerprint products for which we have licences.