Biometrics in our daily lives, useful or threatening?
Biometrics are a variety of technologies used to identify a person by certain unique attributes, such as fingerprint or iris recognition. Furthermore, some of the tech can be used to track a person’s activity, health, even his sleep patterns. Nowadays biometric technology is used on a daily basis. From the simplest of tasks, such as unlocking your mobile phone, to ensuring national security, biometric technology has impacted everyone’s life. But do its uses outweigh the hidden dangers?
Endless amounts of data are created every day through the use of biometrics. When you go for a run and bring your iPhone, Apple knows where you went, how fast you ran and how that compares to your previous runs. Google usually chips in on this as well, tracking your movement wherever you go.
If you wear an activity tracker, such Jawbone or Fitbit, your sleep patterns are tracked and stored, allowing you to optimize your sleep. Some trackers can even measure your heart rate. Combine all this data and you get a pretty complete picture of a person’s health and daily routine. Rather private information, don’t you agree?
In New York the so-called Domain Awareness System is a network of 3000 camera’s that allows law enforcement agencies to review video material in order to better solve crimes that were committed. A very powerful and useful tool that is only a face recognition software upgrade away from being able to follow our every move, effectively putting the last nail in the coffin when it comes to our privacy.
All these data combined are very valuable. But who stores it and who has access to it? What if someone gains unlawful access to my biometric data? The consequences could be far reaching. Blocking my credit card and getting a new one when it’s stolen is one thing. Changing my fingerprint is a whole different ball game.
There are plenty of benefits to biometric technology. Imagine a scenario where everyone was wearing a health tracker. If someone would get sick, say a fever, the tracker would instantly notice the change in body temperature. It would alert the person wearing it to take a day off, both minimizing the chance of spreading the virus and optimizing recovery time. The economic benefits would be significant. However, you would no longer be able to play hooky from work..
Chances are we are going to see a lot more biometric technology the coming years. Anything from national security to playing video games will be influenced by it. Lets just hope all that data doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.