Biometrics, which are physical or behavioral characteristics unique to a person, are making their way into a number of everyday products. Certain laptops and smartphones, for example, are equipped with fingerprint readers that replace passwords with the simple swipe of a finger, and there are cars that can recognize their owner’s voice to start the engine.
Smartcards are another familiar item that can benefit from the use of biometrics. Certain biometrics, including fingerprint scans, handwritten PINs, retina scans, and facial recognition are well suited for use with smartcards, and have the potential to add an extra level of assurance and safety any time someone uses a smartcard to pay for something, enter a secure area, submit private information, apply for a government service, cross a national border, and so on.
Some applications, like electronic passports (ePPs) have been using biometrics for more than a decade, but other applications are still in the early stages of development. NXP has developed a biometric smartcard that uses the cardholder’s handwriting as a feature. The individual numbers of the PIN code are captured in the writer’s unique way 0f writing through the use of an integrated capacitive touchpad.
So where might you use this kind of biometric smartcard? There are a few contactless applications, such as transport ticketing and highway tolling, where transaction speed is, for the most part, more important than secure authentication, and biometrics may not be a helpful addition to the process. But these are the exceptions. Nearly every smartcard application can benefit from the extra security that comes from using biometrics. Here are just a few examples:
Our white paper, titled “Smartcards, security, and biometrics,” is a detailed look at the biometric techniques best suited for use with smartcards. It presents the options for implementing biometrics in a smartcard system and provides examples of real-world biometric smartcards, including the NXP implementation. Download your copy today.