Hand Geometry
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Hand Geometry Biometric Identification Technology

Hand geometry is considered in the middle of the pack for biometric recognition when considering distinctiveness, performance and potential for circumvention. The hand is placed on a flat surface and a video system records finger length, width, curvature and other identifiers.

Hand geometry scanners work by taking more than 90 measurements of the length, width, thickness and surface area of the hand and four fingers. The system translates that information into a mathematical representation known as a template. The hand geometry templates are stored on the readers and updated as needed. The readers can store up to 32,000 templates.

The system maps key features of the topography of a person's hand, measuring all the creases on the palm. This is more expensive and considered less accurate than other biometrics.  Hand geometry seems to be favored in some areas because it does not carry the stigma associated with other biometrics such as the Big Brother concern with fingerprints and iris scanning.

Itís been 33 years since the University of Georgia in Athens installed its first hand geometry reader for access to food services, pioneering the use of the technology on the college campus. Now the university is using the biometric readers for access to residence halls and sporting events as well as the cafeteria.

The University of West Virginia is using hand geometry for access to its recreation center and two University of Central Florida sorority houses have added hand readers for access control.

A recent creation by LiveGrip analyses the veins, arteries and fatty tissues of the hand. Sixteen scans are taken and a template of the individual's hand is stored.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons uses hand geometry to track movements of its prisoners, staff and visitors within prisons. Once people enter the system, they must have their hands scanned. The information is put in a database and each person is issued a magnetic swipe card that must be carried at all times.

Prisoners are enrolled for access control to places such as the cafeteria, hospital and recreational lounges.

Widely deployed and time-tested since the 1980s, it is often used for control access to buildings. Spending on this kind of biometric device is projected to be $97.4 million in 2007.

This method is now being used at San Francisco International Airport. The higher cost and larger size of the equipment is a drawback.

Hand Geometry Biometrics to Open Safety Deposit Box Vaults

02/05 - Recognition Systems, the biometric component of Ingersoll-Rand's (IR) Security & Safety Electronic Control Systems, announced that members at South Florida's largest credit union, Eastern Financial Florida Credit Union, are using its biometric technology to access safe deposit boxes.

Used at several other banks for entering deposit box vaults, the HandKeys unit automatically take a three-dimensional reading of the size and shape of a hand and verify the customer's identity in less than one second. 

Now, customers can let themselves in without waiting for someone to assist them although only one customer at a time is allowed in the safe deposit vault.

Eastern Financial officials considered other security measures, including alternative biometric technologies, but ultimately opted for hand geometry. Members need only present their hand and a personal identification number (PIN).

They contemplated swipe cards, but people lose cards and very often put their PIN on the card, even though they are warned not to do so.  It was felt that iris or retinal scans were too invasive and that hand geometry was comparatively simple and not intimidating to members.

The HandKey units are used in conjunction with the PassVault biometric-based, self-service safe deposit box system developed by Diebold.


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