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David Ackerman Apr 15, 2020 12:40:00 PM 1 min read

Biometrics in the Time of COVID-19

Coronavirus scares everyone. Or at least it should. The CDC website says, “It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it …” While widespread COVID-19 is just beginning to appear in the US as we write this blog entry, authorities expect that it will spread. And when it does, public surfaces will become a lot less inviting to touch.

The takeaway – don’t touch surfaces that lots of other people touch. And, if you do, wash your hands! What does this have to do with biometrics? Like face recognition, iris recognition starts when you stand some distance in front of a camera. This distance is referred to as a standoff. Most fingerprint and palm-vein recognition systems operate with no standoff. You press your fingertips or palms against a surface that, of course, carries germs from previous users. Yuck.

In a world increasingly threatened by pandemic viruses, a recognition system that works with a safe standoff can signal a door to open for you when you are recognized at a distance without any contact with any surface – hands free. The standoff advantage of iris biometric systems has just become very real. Face systems also work with a standoff. Face standoff distances can be so far to be a bit creepy. But that and issues of face recognition accuracy are discussions for a different blog.