History of Biometrics - Fingerprint Dusting to Biometric Safes
History of Biometrics - Fingerprint Dusting to Biometric Safes

As long as people have had precious items to protect, ranging from financial documents to jewelry to weapons, they've wanted a way to keep those items safe. And one of the keys to public and private safety has always been identification.

This need for identification has two distinct meanings.

Firstly, you want proof that you are you when accessing your belongings - or else someone else can just waltz in and take them. Secondly, if there is a thief about, you'll want a way to identify them quickly to put a stop to their crime spree.

This quick blog will go over the history of biometrics, right up to the invention of fingerprint safes - like our signature Biocube series.

Leaving a Mark

The one thing people caught on was unique to every person: fingerprints. Every person (even identical twins) has a unique set of grooves and ridges on the pads of their fingers.

This means that by marking something with your fingerprint (dipped in paint, for example), you have an easy form of identification. What's crazy is that people figured this out as far back as 2500 years ago.

Later on, as the discipline of detective work started to emerge, these earliest sleuths realized that fingerprints could be taken from crime scenes to identify perpetrators. Files of fingerprints were some of the first criminal databases ever created.

For example, Edward Henry, the Inspector General of the Bengal Police in British India, developed a broad fingerprinting index. Collaborating with Sir Francis Galton, the Henry classification system was one of the first biometric systems used on such a large scale.

Since the early 20th century, though, the various modalities and minutiae of biometric algorithms have grown more complex, and their application has grown more widespread.

Who Invented Biometrics?

Technically, biometrics go back to Babylonian times, when criminal identification became an essential part of ancient law enforcement. But those primitive biometric authentication methods are nothing like what we have now.

Alphonse Bertillon initially invented biometric identification systems in Paris during the 1800s. Perhaps unsurprisingly, biometrics were first developed for law enforcement.

Bertillon developed a system for personal identification based on body measurements, including the fingerprint recognition system, for classifying, comparing, and identifying different criminals.

The Bertillon System wasn't nearly as accurate as modern biometric technology. But it was the first step toward a new line of technology with wide-ranging implications.

In the 1880s, the first fingerprinting efforts were made to identify criminals so that people could use their fingerprints as replacements for signatures on legal or commercial contracts.

From that point on, automated fingerprint identification systems - and the use of biometric data in general - would be recognized as inherent aspects of a person's identity and helpful in identifying individuals or in place of a signature.

It wasn't until the mid-1900s that modern biometric technology, as we recognize it, came onto the scene.

Picture Perfect

Throughout the 19th Century, the use of fingerprints for self-identification or crime purposes steadily increased. The next real break in the advancement of biometrics was the invention of photography.

With this, pictures of fingerprints could be snapped for filing - much cleaner than potentially smudged ink versions. With photography also came the idea that people could be biometrically identified through their measurements - the size of parts of their body and head.

However, this form of biometrics ended up being busted in one truly astounding case. Two men ended up in an American prison with the same name and looked identical, causing an identification nightmare and shaking up the world of biometrics.

In the 1930s, the idea was floated that iris pattern recognition might be a suitable method of biometric identification.

As the 20th century rolled on, the boundaries of biometrics were pushed further. The breakout decade for biometrics had to be the 1960s, as technologies were developed that could automatically perform face recognition, in addition to using fingerprint and signature metrics for identity verification.

Now the door was open for fingerprint safes and other applications.

What Kinds of Biometrics Are Used?

These days, automated biometric identification systems are used for legal and law enforcement purposes. The different kinds of personal data and physiological characteristics included under the umbrella of biometrics include:

  • Fingerprint analysis, as detailed above, as well as palm print recognition
  • Voice recognition
  • Facial recognition technology, which measures the distance between different facial features against large-scale biometric databases of facial images to determine a person's identity one way or the other
  • Iris recognition, in 1985, led to scientists discovering that irises were unique to everyone, just like fingerprints
  • DNA authentication, which is often used in law enforcement cases via DNA samples left behind at the scenes of crimes, like blood or saliva

How Are Biometrics Used Today?

Biometric technology is so helpful that it has seen implementation across many unique industries far beyond essential law enforcement criminal recognition. The odds are that you or your loved ones have been analyzed or influenced by biometrics in your daily lives.

Smartphone Security

One common biometrics application in the modern world is smartphone security. Indeed, many modern smartphones from both Apple and Android manufacturers utilize biometric scanning technology to enable users to access control features and apps.

For example, some smartphones now have full-on fingerprint scanners on their surfaces. This enables individuals to open their phones by pushing their fingerprints on those scanners rather than inputting passwords.

Similarly, many smartphones accept other forms of biometric identification, like voice samples or eye scanners. iPhones, for instance, are widely celebrated for their real-time facial recognition.

This is just one use of biometric security that has entered the commercial market. It's no longer a technology only available to the FBI or the U.S. Government Department of Defense. Soon enough, everyone will have access to biometric security measures.

Safe Security

Safe security has also seen a significant upgrade thanks to biometrics. Mycube's various biometric safes are excellent examples.

These safes don't use dials, keys, or passcodes, all of which can either be fooled or stolen. For example, a dial's code can be guessed or stolen if the code is written down. Physical keys and passcodes can also be stolen or, in the case of keys, replicated.

Biometric safes can help protect the valuables inside. That's because no one can replicate your fingerprint. With a biometric safe, only the people with stored fingerprints in the computer can access the contents.

Furthermore, biometric safes allow you to open their doors and access the contents, like firearms, much more quickly and easily. You no longer have to worry about rotating a dial back and forth when you need your self-defense handgun.

With a biometric safe, you can put your thumb to the scanner and get your gun in a matter of seconds.

Airport Security

Given the focus on security at airports, it's no surprise that air terminals have also used biometric technology to the maximum extent.

Dozens, if not hundreds, of security cameras watch people who enter and exit airports, scanning their faces and comparing them against FBI and other law enforcement criminal records.

Essentially, if a criminal enters an airport, there's a good chance that one of the cameras will catch them using biometric technology, then alert law enforcement as needed. Biometric technology is also frequently utilized to confirm the identities of passengers.

For example, some passengers may be taken away from standard bag check lines and subjected to biometric analyses of their fingerprints, irises, or facial measurements to confirm who they say they are.

Airport security is monumentally essential, given the danger of aircraft hijackings. That's why airports have implemented biometric technology more than many other places or building types. This kind of security is also used to ensure safety at large events like the Super Bowl.

Biometric Safes and Beyond

Today, biometric technology has been given a significant boost in efficiency by introducing artificial intelligence. Not only can these biometric scans be done automatically, but they can be done with minimal human input as well.

Now you'll find fingerprint scanners, iris scanners at airports, and cameras that can correctly identify a human face. Biometric technology has also found its way into our lives in other forms. We take it for granted that every smartphone we buy will be "fingerprint safe."

However, it's equally amazing how many parts of our lives lag behind. Doorknobs haven't given way to fingerprint doors just yet. And yet, just like all those years ago, fingerprints are an excellent way of determining identity.

This is a little part of the reason why biometric safes like our Biocube exist. Why accept anything else but the cutting-edge when it comes to security? The best way to keep your belongings safe is with a home safe that can't mistake you for anyone else.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, biometric technology has evolved far beyond its original, less reliable iterations.

These days, well-made biometric tools like Mycube's many safes are consistent, effective, and reliable: perfect for guaranteeing peace of mind when you need to keep your valuables safe.

There's no better time than now to update or upgrade your safe from an old, difficult-to-use model, like a dial safe, to a modernized and easy-to-use biometric safe.

Mycube's biometric safes:

  • Can be opened in an instant
  • Are safer than traditional, key-based, or dial safes since no one can "guess" the right combination
  • Are just as durable as other safes

Even better, many of Mycube's safes are designed to fit seamlessly into existing walls so you can mount them anywhere you like. Check out our range of biometric safes today.


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