My father carries around a giant key chain with keys for the house, office, cars, shed, garage, boat, and a key for his gun cabinet. Mind you, I know better than to suggest that he replace even one lock with a biometric (electric) lock, but as I review the latest generation of these locks I am tempted to at least replace his house and gun cabinet locks with a good biometric lock.
The term biometric authentication refers to the methods for uniquely recognizing humans based upon one or more intrinsic physical traits. In computer science, in particular, biometrics is used as a form of identity access management and access control. Fingerprint recognition is a subset of biometric authentication and was first used thousands of years ago as a signature on clay tablets. The real art of fingerprint pattern analysis picked up momentum in the early 19th century when law enforcement used fingerprints to identify criminal suspects. In 1905 the US Army began using fingerprints and later that year the U.S. Department of Justice forms the Bureau of Criminal Identification in Washington, DC to provide a centralized reference collection of fingerprint cards.
The adoption of computer based fingerprint analysis systems in the early 1990s by several federal law enforcement groups gave the green light to millions of dollars in funding research into commercial applications of fingerprint recognition. So, 20 years of research and development has delivered this last generation of fingerprint authentication locks and devices that are a remarkable combination security and convenience.
In addition to fingerprint recognition here are just a few biometric authentication processes used in commercial and private security devices:
And just for fun here are a few movies with examples of these biometric authentication devices:
Minority Report, Gattaca, Demolition Man, Angels and Demons.