A Brief History of Biometrics and Its Evolution

Biometric Technology has emerged as a groundbreaking innovation in the field of identification and security. Just as the invention of computers revolutionized information processing and data management, biometrics has transformed the way we authenticate and verify individuals’ identities. This article appreciates the invention of computer and its significance in Biometric Technology in shaping our modern world.

Ancient Origins:

The roots of Biometrics can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where rudimentary forms of identification were employed. Ancient Egyptians, for instance, used physical characteristics to differentiate individuals.

Similarly, the Chinese emperor Shi Huangdi employed handprints as a form of identification in the third century BC. These early examples demonstrate the innate human desire to establish trust and verify identities.

The Rise of Modern Biometrics:

The modern era of biometrics began to take shape in the late 19th century with the pioneering work of Francis Galton, a British scientist who introduced the concept of fingerprints as a unique identifier. Galton’s research laid the foundation for fingerprint recognition, which is still widely used today as one of the most prevalent biometric modalities.

Advancements in Biometric Modalities:

Over time, biometric technology expanded to incorporate various modalities beyond fingerprints. In the early 20th century, Alphonse Bertillon introduced anthropometry, a system based on body measurements, which was later replaced by fingerprinting due to its limitations. In the same period, the advent of computers enabled various advancements in biometrics leading to a great revolution in human identification.   

The Dawn of Computers

The development of computers in the mid-20th century brought about a radical shift in the way information was processed and stored. Prior to their advent, data handling was a laborious and time-consuming task, relying heavily on manual calculations and paperwork. Computers revolutionized these processes by automating tasks, enabling faster calculations, and facilitating efficient data management.

Who are the Founders of Computer?

The founders of computer can be traced back to several influential individuals who played significant roles in the development and advancement of computing technology. One of the pioneers was Charles Babbage, an English mathematician and inventor who conceptualized the idea of a programmable mechanical computer in the early 19th century, laying the foundation for modern computers. Another key figure was Alan Turing, a British mathematician and logician who made groundbreaking contributions to the theory of computation. Turing’s work in developing the concept of a universal machine provided the theoretical framework for modern computers. Additionally, John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry built the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC) in the 1930s, which is widely considered to be the first electronic digital computer.

These individuals, along with many others who contributed to the field of computer science, were the visionary founders who set the stage for the incredible technological advancements that shape our modern world.

The Integral Role of Computers in Advancing Biometric Technology

Behind the scenes, computers have played a pivotal role in the evolution of biometrics, propelling the field forward and making remarkable advancements possible. With their processing power, pattern recognition capabilities, and ability to handle large amounts of data, computers have transformed biometric systems into highly accurate, efficient, and reliable tools for identification and verification.

This led to the development of independent or Standalone Biometric Devices with seamless computing power greatly enhancing the matching speed for identification, even in scenarios involving tremendous data.

Machine Learning and Continuous Improvements:

Machine learning algorithms have significantly advanced the capabilities of biometric technology. Computers allow these algorithms to analyze vast amounts of data, detect patterns, and refine recognition models. By continuously learning from experience, biometric systems can adapt and improve their accuracy over time. Machine learning has enabled biometric technology to handle variations in biometric samples due to factors like aging, pose, or lighting conditions, resulting in more robust and reliable identification and verification outcomes.

Integration and Interoperability:

Computers have facilitated the integration of biometric systems with other technologies and databases, enhancing their utility and effectiveness. Biometric systems can seamlessly connect with existing identity management systems, law enforcement databases, or access control systems. Computers enable data sharing, real-time updates, and interoperability, making biometric technology a valuable tool in areas such as border control, law enforcement, and secure access management.

Enhanced Security Measures:

Computers have contributed to strengthening the security of biometric systems. They enable the implementation of advanced encryption techniques and secure protocols to protect biometric data during storage, transmission, and processing. Robust security measures safeguard individuals’ privacy and prevent unauthorized access or manipulation of sensitive biometric information, instilling trust and confidence in biometric technology.

Timeline of Biometrics:

This timeline provides a glimpse into the key milestones and developments in biometric technology, showcasing its progression from early research to widespread adoption in various industries and everyday applications.

500 BC

During Babylonian business transactions, clay tablets were marked with fingerprints as a form of identification.


Chinese merchants utilized the palm and footprints of children as a means to identify them.


Francis Galton, a British scientist, establishes the uniqueness of fingerprints.


Edward Henry develops a fingerprint classification system laying the foundation for fingerprint identification.


The first fully Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) is developed, using computers to match fingerprints against a database.


Facial recognition technology begins to emerge, with early experiments focusing on 2D image analysis and matching algorithms.


Voice recognition technology gains attention, with the development of speaker recognition algorithms that analyze vocal characteristics to verify individual identity.



The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) establishes the Face Recognition Vendor Test (FRVT), which evaluates and benchmarks facial recognition algorithms and systems.


The Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) becomes widely adopted by law enforcement agencies for fingerprint matching and identification.


John Daugman develops a method of iris recognition by utilizing the unique random texture present in the iris of human eye.


Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, biometric technology, particularly fingerprint and facial recognition, receives increased attention for enhancing security measures at airports and border control checkpoints.


ZKTeco, a Biometrics and Security Solutions company, releases A1, the first-in-the-world business embedded Fingerprint Time Attendance Device. The company also launches the first Fingerprint Access Control Device in the following year expanding the use of biometrics for business enterprises and organizations.



The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) mandates the inclusion of biometric information, such as facial images and fingerprints, in machine-readable passports to enhance travel security.


The world’s first fingerprint-enabled mobile phone, Pantech GI100, was launched paving the way for biometrics to enter into the consumer market.


Apple introduces Touch ID, a fingerprint recognition system, on the iPhone 5S, popularizing the use of biometrics in consumer devices.


ZKTeco launches the first ever Multi-Biometric Device followed by the release of first Multi-Biometric Algorithm comprising of 4 recognition techniques including Fingerprint, Face, Iris, and Vein in 2012.


The U.S. government launches the Biometric Exit program, implementing facial recognition technology at international airports to verify the identity of departing travellers.


The FBI launches the Next Generation Identification (NGI) system, replacing its Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) and expanding its biometric capabilities to include palm prints, iris recognition, and facial recognition.


Facial recognition technology achieves significant advancements, driven by deep learning algorithms and large-scale training datasets, leading to increased accuracy and adoption in various applications.


The European Union introduces the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), imposing stricter regulations on the collection, storage, and use of biometric data, emphasizing the need for user consent and data protection.


COVID-19 pandemic accelerates the adoption of touchless biometric solutions, such as facial recognition and iris recognition, to minimize physical contact and enhance hygiene in authentication processes.

Present: Biometric technology continues to evolve rapidly, with ongoing advancements in areas such as multimodal biometrics (combining multiple modalities for enhanced accuracy), behavioural biometrics (analyzing unique behavioural patterns), and the integration of biometrics with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning for improved performance.

Biometric technology has come a long way since its early beginnings, transforming the way we authenticate identities and ensuring secure access to various systems and services. From the ancient civilizations’ basic identification methods to the modern biometric systems integrated into our everyday lives, the history and evolution of biometrics reflect humanity’s persistent quest for reliable and efficient identification methods.

And the evolution of biometric technology owes much of its success to the role of computers. Their processing power, pattern recognition capabilities, data storage and retrieval mechanisms, machine learning algorithms, integration with other systems, and enhanced security measures have propelled biometrics to new heights. Computers have made biometric systems faster, more accurate, and more reliable, enabling their adoption in various fields. As computers continue to advance, we can expect even more remarkable developments in the future.

Evolution of Biometrics in Various Sectors:

Biometrics has found extensive applications across diverse sectors, transforming the way we authenticate and identify individuals. In healthcare, biometric systems facilitate secure access to patient records, reduce medical identity theft, and enable accurate patient identification.

In the banking and finance industry, biometrics enhance transaction security, simplify authentication for mobile banking, and prevent fraud. In transportation, biometric systems streamline airport security, expedite immigration processes, and enhance border control.

In corporate sector, biometrics improve campus security, automate attendance tracking, and protect sensitive data. Additionally, biometrics play a crucial role in law enforcement, aiding criminal investigations, forensic analysis, and suspect identification.

Biometrics has become increasingly prevalent in security systems. In the security industry, biometrics has revolutionized access control, surveillance, and identity verification processes. Biometric technologies have been integrated into security systems to enhance accuracy, efficiency, and reliability. These advancements have bolstered security measures in airports, government agencies, financial institutions, and other high-security environments, minimizing the risk of unauthorized access, identity theft, and fraudulent activities.

The Future of Biometrics:

The future of biometric technology holds tremendous potential. Advancements in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and sensor technologies are driving innovations in biometrics. Emerging modalities, such as gait recognition, vein pattern recognition, and brainwave authentication, are being explored. Biometrics is also expected to play a vital role in emerging fields like Smart Cities, Internet of Things (IoT), and personalized healthcare, where secure and seamless identification is crucial.