biometric scanners

An Introduction to Biometric Fingerprint Scanners

Biometric scanners are the next big thing in the security business, and it makes sense. Looking at access control technologies, the biggest hurdle isn’t finding new and innovative ways to lock doors – it’s finding more secure ways to authenticate identity. PINs can be discovered, cards can be copied, and keys can be pickpocketed. No security system is perfect, but when it comes to identity verification, a biometric scanners identification factors are hard to forge.

Biometrics literally means “the measuring of the living” – basically, body parts. Humans can do this quite easily, but since teaching a computer to recognize a person is not easy, it’s broken down into manageable chunks. While computers can be programmed to recognize retinas and voices, some of the most common biometric scanners are designed for fingerprints.

Types of Biometric Fingerprint Scanners

There are three main types of biometric scanners: Optical, Capacitive, and Ultrasonic. All three measure the ridges of a fingerprint as well as any scars or other marks to map out the print and compare it against a database.

Optical scanners use the same type of image sensor found in a digital camera to render a 2-dimensional image of a print. While physically fairly robust, this type of sensor is the easiest to trick with prosthetics or even high-resolution images of a fingerprint.

Capacitive sensors use the minute differences in print ridges and valleys as electronic contact points to derive a map.

Ultrasonic scanners bounce a precisely calibrated sonic pulse against a fingertip and, rather than mapping the fingerprint itself, map the return echo and use that data to derive the shape of the print. This is the most precise but most fragile type of scanner on the market right now.

Once the scanner has mapped your fingerprint, it’s converted to a Wiegand number and sent to the controller for verification against the approved whitelist.

How Biometric Fingerprint Scanners Work

Almost every access control system recognizes Wiegand numbers for transferring your credentials to the security panel for verification. This practice originated in the 70’s, when keycards were embedded with special magnetic wires invented by John Wiegand. The arrangement of these wires created a specific number sequence that identified the card.

This number sequence is still used today by access control systems. Fingerprint scanners use an algorithm to convert the optical, capacitive, or ultrasonic map of your fingerprint into a unique Wiegand number. The panel can then read your fingerprint identity just like it used to read keycards.

Indoor or Outdoor Scanners?

Before you decide which type of fingerprint scanner you want, you also need to consider durability. For more environment- or tamper-proof systems, an IP rating measures your equipment’s ability to withstand or to guard against particulates and tools (the first digit) and water pressure (the second digit).

Balancing Precision & Resilience

A fingerprint scanner is a delicate system. The finer its ability to measure the minute details of a particular finger pad’s grooves, the less protected it can be against weathering and intrusion. It’s the result of the ever-present engineer’s dilemma of balancing between precision and resilience.

For an indoor scanner, you probably don’t want to bother with an IP rated system – it protects against elements the scanner won’t be exposed to and just makes your system less efficient. On the other hand, outdoor scanners need to be weatherproofed with full IP certification for your circumstances, or your system will be too fragile to be dependable.

Safety and Security at Your Fingertips

We’ve been California’s best local security system installers for a while now, and we’re excited about the options that biometric fingerprint scanners afford you when installing modern access control systems. Whether you’ve got just a handful, dozens, or hundreds of employees, there’s a high probability someone will lose a keycard. With a fingerprint scanner, no one has a keycard to lose, making your business safer and more secure.

Biometrics is the way the security industry is heading, so now is a great time to get started installing reliable security systems. Call Safe and Sound today to get more information or install your own biometric fingerprint scanner and bring your access control systems into the twenty-first century.

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