WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Some Purdue University
researchers are working on technology that could see all those passwords
that computer users must punch in replaced with steps such as iris and
The basement lab of Purdue University's International Center for
Biometrics Research is where such emerging biometric technologies are
tested for weaknesses before going mainstream.
Iris and fingerprint scans as well as facial and voice recognition are
just a few of the tools that can improve security while making lives
easier, said Stephen Elliott, the center's director.
That technology can allow someone to log into a computer or activate a
smartphone simply by swiping their fingerprint over a sensor — and
eliminate the need to frequently change passwords.
"I think the average person would tell you they have too many passwords
and it's a hassle to change them all the time, and therefore they use the
same password for lots of things, which inherently makes that easier to
break," Elliott said.
Biometrics is already in use at a KFC restaurant in West Lafayette, where
workers punch in by putting their finger on a fingerprint scanner attached
to their cash register.
Chris Smith, the restaurant's assistant manager, said passwords were
sometimes shouted out among workers and that the fingerprint system
improves the security of cash registers by better limiting access.
And the system means one less password workers have to memorize.
"I'm sure that they have a hundred that they have to remember for their
things at home — their online banking and whatnot," Smith said. "So it's
just one more ease for them that they don't have to have."
Elliott said that while many people now consider such scanners something
out of the movies, he believes computer passwords could someday be a thing
of the past.
"I think once people see the things in consumer's hands — the biometrics
in there — then we'll just see people try to push other deployments of
biometrics, because it's easier," he said.