Biometric Technology: A Brief History

Authentication is the process of verifying one’s identity to be able to access certain information or device. And for the longest time, passwords have been the most common authentication method. But as time passed by, authorities have realized how prone passwords are to hacking. They can easily be breached and get used for illegal activities.

With this realization, several verification improvements were developed. Among which is the use of biometrics. Biometric technology may seem new to many people, and that is entirely understandable given that it was introduced to the public when Apple launched iPhone 5. This technology allows users to log in without the need for passwords. And all these became possible through FIDO2 passwordless authentication.  But before all of these became open for public use, it was first developed and utilized during the 1960s.

Scientists have begun identifying physiological components of acoustic speech and phonic sounds in the 1960s. Nine years later, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) pushed for automated fingerprint identification. This prompted the use of fingerprints for government utilization.

In 1975, the first fingerprint scanners were prototyped and funded by the FBI. The National Institute of Science and Technology also became involved and worked on compression and algorithms as the digital storage costs were prohibitive. The work spearheaded by the NIST led to the creation of the M40 algorithm, which is the first operational matching algorithm used by the FBI.

During the 1990s, biometric science took off and was continuously developed. These advancements continued to pursue until the 2000s when West Virginia University (WVU) established the first bachelor’s program in Biometric Systems and Computer Engineering. The United States immigration department also used biometric technology to ensure travelers’ identification, legitimacy, and security.

Finally, in 2010, biometrics were introduced for public use. Today, almost every smartphone has a biometric system. Fingerprint or face recognition are two of the most popular biometric technology featured in mobile phones. Before, these features could only be used for accessing devices, but they can also be used for online transactions and payment authentication as time goes by.

If you are curious and want to know more about passwordless logins, you can continue reading through this infographic by LoginID. 

Biometric Technology: a brief history