Make biometric tech more user-friendly

Make biometric tech more user-friendly
Gina Poh, 28, a SIA staff using the Fast biometric card at CAAS' demo of the new fully automated seamless travel system.

SINGAPORE - Agree that biometric technology is not foolproof or flawless ("Reading your palm, for security's sake"; Monday).

A person's thumbprint or palm print, when scanned for access into a building or at immigration checkpoints, may not be exactly the same as the print that is captured in the computer.

This explains why many Singaporeans are not able to use the automated passport clearance points at Changi Airport to pass through.

Most affected are passengers with dry skin and those with sweaty palms.

The frustrating attempts to get their thumbprints scanned not only hold up others in the queue, but also cause embarrassment when passengers are called up by immigration officers when the scans fail.

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority should redesign its technology into a two-tier authentication system.

If the first-tier finger scanning fails, the second tier should immediately kick in, allowing the system to accept NRIC barcode scanning.

Fingerprint authorisation on smartphones and laptops is also not reliable.

These devices may not recognise our fingerprints if we alter our finger positions slightly.

It is common for employees to key in their passwords when fingerprint door access fails due to a computer glitch.

Most banks in Singapore have already discontinued thumbprint identification for the opening of accounts and withdrawals, and replaced it with signatures, with the exception of the illiterate and elderly.

While biometric technology is a high-tech concept, researchers must try to improve on its design and function to make it more user-friendly.

It has to be able to detect multiple changes in vascular patterns and skin structure to allow seamless access without compromising security.

If it is too onerous, people will not use it.

Francis Cheng (Reader)

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