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Giving Biometrics the finger.

Data bothers me. It always has. There's so much of it lying all over the place - in spreadsheets, emails, smses and on random bits of paper. I know a lot of very smart people who are very good at organizing, storing and using data. But I reckon the coolest ones are the ones running the video store around the corner from my mom's place.

You see, I have a thing about video store cards. And the thing is that I keep losing them. I refuse to keep unnecessary cards in my wallet and as diligent as I am, I can never remember where I last put the video store card. Which is why my mom's video store (for lack of a better name) is so cool.

They've implemented a biometric finger print scanner to replace video store cards. So whenever you rent a video, you go and give them the finger and up pops your account letting you know what the last porno was that you rented and just how many fines you have outstanding. It's all very Star Trek, which makes it even more fitting to be found at a video store but is a very smart and efficient way to profile their customers and associate you with your data.

It also makes sense. Biometrics scanners these days start from just a few hundred rand, which means that the store will save on designing and printing cards for new members and replacing the inevitable lost cards for existing customers. It also saves time since the staff don't need to waste time looking up accounts or searching for id numbers.

Some folks do however some safety concerns about the 'new' technology worrying that there personal information is at risk or that they are that much closer to being a victim of identity theft. Personally, I think having your mail stolen is a much higher risk.

The scanners that businesses such the humble video shop make use of might look very CSI, but they're a lot more low tech. Firstly, they're not connected to the internet (in most instances) and secondly they record on average 5-7 regions on your finger print. If memory serves, the police require a 16 point match (though I could be wrong here).

More and more businesses are using biometrics fro access control and in the US, schools have started to issue kids lunch using their fingerprints to prevent lost lunch money or lunch cards. The trend is clearly showing that this is a technology that is gaining traction.

The question I have is simple - are you freaked out by fingerprint scanners or do you accept that its' something we'll all have to deal with in the future?

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