14 February 2019
Biometric access control systems: An Overview
access control systems are shaping the future of business security across the
globe. With its faultless data gathering, identification and verification
capabilities, biometric access control systems are crucial for the safeguarding
and security of countless industries and sectors worldwide.
at one time the characteristics of biometric access control wouldn’t have seemed
out of place in the science fiction genre, its technology is improving security
for businesses within countless industries of varying sizes and scales.
benefits of biometric access control are many and varied and are causing a
significant stir across both high-risk security and smaller-scale
is a biometric security system?
Biometrics is a method of establishing a person’s identity based on chemical,
behavioural, or physical attributes of that person, and is relevant in
large-scale identity management across a wide range of applications.
One of the
most common uses for biometrics is providing access control for restricted
facilities, areas, or equipment. Unlike code- and password-based systems or
access card systems, which rely on information that can be forgotten or items
that can be lost, biometrics techniques provide access based on who people are
rather than what they have in their possession.
In principle, a biometric system is a
pattern recognition unit that gathers a specific type of biometric data from a
person, focuses on a relevant feature of that data, compares that feature to a
pre-set group of attributes in its database, and then performs an action based
on the accuracy of the comparison. There are a variety of characteristics that
can be used for biometric comparisons, such as fingerprints, irises, hand
geometries, voice patterns, or DNA information, and although there are certain
limitations to biometric capabilities, an effective system can precisely
identify an individual based on these factors.
A standard biometric access
control system is composed of four main types of components: a sensor device, a
quality assessment unit, a feature comparison and matching unit, and a
More on how does biometrics work
The Sensor Device
A biometric reader or scanning device is
used to obtain the necessary verification data from a person. For example, in
fingerprint biometrics applications, an optical sensor is employed to produce
an image of the ridge structure at a fingertip, and this image serves as the
basis for further access control activity.
The sensor unit forms the key interface
between a user and a biometric access control system, making it important to
minimise the rate of reading failure. The quality and usefulness of the data
obtained through sensors often depends on camera characteristics because the
majority of biometric data is composed of images, with the exception of
audio-based systems, such as voice recognition, and chemically-based systems,
such as odour identification.
Data Quality Assessment
In an access control system, the biometric
data gathered by the sensor device must be evaluated to gauge whether it is
suitable for processing. Typically, an algorithm designed for signal
enhancement is applied to the data in order to improve its quality, but if the
quality is insufficient for processing, the user may be asked to resubmit the
After processing, a specific set of features is selected from the overall
data set to represent the qualifying identity trait. In fingerprint scanning,
the relative positions of small ridge points can be extracted for use as a
biometric measure. The feature set used for assessment and extraction is known
as the biometric template, and is stored within the system’s database.
Comparison and Matching
After the feature set has been extracted
from the gathered data, it is compared to the stored templates and matched with
any identical points. The number of matching points between the input and the
template provides a match score, which can fluctuate between readings depending
on the quality of collected data. The matching device in a biometric system
usually includes a decision-making apparatus that relies on the match score to
either confirm a person’s identity or to determine the identity by correlating
the score to a ranked list of possible identities stored in the database.
The System Database
A biometric system database stores all the
information needed for processing biometric readings. When establishing access
control parameters, the feature template is input into the database, sometimes
along with biographical information specific to the user in order to enhance
A single biometric sample is often
sufficient for extracting a user template, but in some cases, a biometric
system can process multiple samples to form a mosaic representation. Some
systems also store multiple templates to compensate for data variations that
can arise from a single user. This method is often found in facial recognition
biometrics, in which several templates are employed to account for alterations
in facial poses relative to the sensor.
the benefits of biometrics?
A biometric system offers a
higher level of identity security than a typical proximity-based Access Control
system. This is because a biometric system uses an individual's unique
biological information in order to verify and authenticate their identity.
This is safer than using codes
or access cards as these are easier to obtain. Biometric features can include
fingerprint, retina, voice and facial recognition - all of which are extremely
difficult to replicate.
advantages of biometric access control systems are:
It provides extra security. This type of access
control is more secure, since the fingerprint or other biometric marker is
a unique and unrepeatable characteristic in each person.
- Low maintenance cost. Once the installation is
completed, this type of access control has a much lower maintenance cost
compared to other systems.
- Doesn´t require additional
devices for opening the door. With the biometric access control, there is
no need for using traditional keys, switches and switching devices. Based
on the identification of a unique characteristic of a person, it gets by
without these elements, so that the situation of keys loss does not occur.
main disadvantages are:
A biometric system is less
convenient in cases where the ‘users list’ changes frequently, as for
example, in business centres or offices in which new staff enters
periodically or when there are business visits.
- The cost of installation is
higher compared to other access control systems. Although the cost of
maintenance is lower, the user will incur a higher initial investment.
Although it is not so
common, in some cases, specific persons cannot be identified: 1 % of the
population cannot be identified through a fingerprint.
a combined identification system is used, for example, fingerprint and keypad,
which offers great advantages. In other words, it is possible to take advantage
of biometric access control and identification by codes, proximity or radio
frequency (remote control) at the same time. The combination of different
identification methods in a same access control system may increase the
installation’s price but it provides more flexibility.
Transform your organisation today
organisation’s security today with TouchStar. We’re proud to deliver reliable
and robust cutting edge biometric technology that transforms operations across
To find out more about
our state of the art biometric technology solutions and how they can transform
your organisation, get in touch today.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR - LYNDEN JONES
Lynden joined Touchstar ATC (formally Feedback Data) in a sales role for Access Control in 2010. Prior to joining the company, Lynden held both Production and Account Manager roles, gaining wide technical and commercial experience within the electronics market.
In 2013 Lynden was promoted to Sales Director and in 2017 he took overall responsibility of the business as Managing Director. As well as running Touchstar ATC, Lynden still remains extremely active in the sales and key account management aspects of the business. When not involved in the business, Lynden is a keen performance car enthusiast.