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cover of August 8, 2015 issue

Questions for Biometrics: New IDs that are uniquely you

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8:57am, August 7, 2014

Light travels through the skin to the blood vessels below. The blood in them scatters and absorbs the light in different patterns, depending on its wavelength (color). The pattern of those blood vessels matches the fingerprint above them.

COURTESY OF LUMIDIGM

SCIENCE

Before reading

1.      Do you know any twins? If they bear a strong resemblance to one another, are there certain features or characteristics you rely on to tell them apart?

2.      Have you ever had your fingerprints taken? What was the reason? What makes fingerprints so useful?

During reading

1. What is face-recognition software?

2. Define “biometrics.”

3. Provide some examples of features or characteristics that are useful in biometrics.

4. List some of the places where biometric data are being used.

5. How did Marios Savvides teach his computer program to enhance small and blurry images of faces?

6. What makes the iris so useful in identifying someone?

7. What is an ECG?

8. What’s Nymi? What does it do?

9. How and why do we leave behind fingerprints when we touch things?

10. Explain why Rob Rowe’s scanner has been so helpful in vaccinating children in Benin.

After reading

1. Would Nymi or similar technology be useful in your everyday life? Explain how and why it would or would not.

2. Marios Savvides foresees a day when smart robots that recognize you and know your preferences are common. Which age groups might benefit most from such technology? Explain your answer.

SOCIAL STUDIES

1.      One day, computer programs may be able to automatically identify a person from a photograph. What kinds of privacy concerns does that raise? Do you think this kind of photo-recognition of people is overall good or bad? Explain your answer.

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