National Physical Laboratory


Image courtesy of iStockphoto
Image courtesy
of iStockphoto

Biometric identification technologies, such as automatic face, fingerprint and iris recognition, are beginning to be used for user authentication in a variety of applications including computer login, building access control, and fast-track clearance through immigration. Current proposals for national identity cards also consider using of biometrics to help in preventing identity fraud.


Biometric technologies measure a variety of anatomical, physiological and behavioural characteristics, and use the measurements to distinguish between different people and sometimes also to check that the image or signal presented is that of a real face, fingerprint, iris, etc., rather than that of a fake.

Measurements of a living entity will vary from one occasion to the next, and are normally highly dependent on environmental conditions and user behaviour.

What we do

Our work encompasses developing and improving methodologies for evaluating the performance of biometric systems, conducting evaluations, and technical consultancy on biometric system performance for government and industry.

Background material

  • MSCG has conducted a performance assessment of seven biometric authentication systems for the UK government Biometrics Working Group run by the Communication Electronics Security Group (CESG).
  • Over recent years there has been considerable growth in interest in the use of biometric systems for personal authentication.

Biometrics case studies

An international comparison of biometric techniques may lead to more robust and accurate recognition.


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