Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Biometric Authentication Technology: From the Movies to Your Desktop



Fernando L. Podio, J S. Dunn


Biometrics are automated methods of identifying a person or verifying the identity of a person based on a physiological or behavioral characteristic. Biometric authentication technologies such as face, finger, hand, iris, and speaker recognition are commercially available today and are already coming into wide use. Recent advances in reliability and performance and recent cost drops make these technologies attractive solutions for many computer and network access, protection of digital content and physical access control problems. Biometrics is expected to play a key role in personal authentication for large-scale enterprise network authentication environments, Point-of-Sale, in the protection of all types of digital content such as in Digital Rights Management and in Health Care applications. Utilized alone or integrated with other technologies such as smart cards, encryption keys, and digital signatures, biometrics are set to pervade nearly all aspects of the economy and our daily lives. This article describes key biometric technologies and the advantages of biometrics with respect to other authentication technologies such as passwords and PINs. The leadership role played by NIST and NSA in the Biometric Consortium, their support to industry and the different biometric standards developments that they have spearheaded and sponsored are also discussed.
Medical Records Institute Newsletter


biometric, biometrics, dynamic signature verification, face recognition, fingerpring recognition, hand recognition, iris recognition, standards, technologies


Podio, F. and Dunn, J. (2001), Biometric Authentication Technology: From the Movies to Your Desktop, Medical Records Institute Newsletter, [online], (Accessed July 14, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created August 7, 2001, Updated February 17, 2017