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Advantages and Disadvantages of Fingerprint Recognition

These days Fingerprint Recognition is a daily part of our lives; mobile phones, tablets and even laptops now feature fingerprint recognition functionality as standard. At work, more and more organisations are also using this type of biometric scanner to track attendance and manage their workforce alongside the security benefits it offers, replacing passwords, ID cards and door entry codes. 

Fast, non-invasive and simple to use, it’s easy to see why it has become the most developed and widely available biometric security solution on the market. If you’re still unsure whether it’s worth the investment for your company, here are some pros and cons that might be useful to consider as you weigh up the available options. 

How Fingerprint Recognition works 

The software works by extracting meaningful features known as minutia points from the fingerprint. The scanner picks out attributes such as orientation, change of ridge direction, arches, loops and whorls in the print. Some scanners can even pick up pores on the skin.  The software then records and stores these minutia points in order to verify the user’s identity in the future.  

Five advantages of Fingerprint Recognition 

  • Security – security-wise, it is a vast improvement on passwords and identity cards. Fingerprints are much harder to fake, they also change very little over a lifetime, so the data remains current for much longer than photos and passwords.  
  • Ease of use – for the user they are simple and easy to use. No more struggling to remember your last password or being locked out due to leaving your photo ID at home. Your fingerprints are always with you.  
  • Non-transferable – fingerprints are non-transferrable, ruling out the sharing of passwords or ‘clocking in’ on behalf of another colleague. This allows for more accurate tracking of workforce and provides additional security against the theft of sensitive materials.  
  • Accountability – using fingerprint recognition also provides a higher level of accountability at work. Biometric proof you have been present when a situation or incident has occurred is hard to refute and can be used as evidence if required.  
  • Cost effective – from a technology management perspective, fingerprint recognition is now a cost-effective security solution. Small hand-held scanners are easy to set up and benefit from a high level of accuracy.   

Three disadvantages of Fingerprint Recognition 

  • System failures – scanners are subject to the same technical failures and limitations as all other electronic identification systems such as power outages, errors and environmental factors.  
  • Cost – it is true that fingerprint recognition systems are more cost effective than ever, but for smaller organisations the cost of implementation and maintenance can still be a barrier to implementation. This disadvantage is lessening as devices become more cost effective and affordable. 
  • Exclusions – while fingerprints remain relatively stable over a person’s lifetime there are sections of the population that will be excluded from using the system. For example, older people with a history of manual work may struggle to register worn prints into a system or people who have suffered the loss of fingers or hands would be excluded. 

NEC New Zealand and Fingerprint Recognition 

At NEC, we’re proud to be the proven market leader in fingerprint recognition technology; ranking first for accuracy and speed in two successive National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) benchmarking tests. We provide airports, border control and police services with the most advanced fingerprint recognition system available. And, with over 1,000 clients in 30 countries, it is safe to say we have the breadth and depth of experience to lead, collaborate and innovate within a wide range of private sectors too. To find out more about how NEC can help your business, contact us today.  

Updated: 22 November 2021

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