How Biometrics Works


This Tablet PC has a signature verification system.
This Tablet PC has a signature verification system.
Photo courtesy Softpro

At first glance, using handwriting to identify people might not seem like a good idea. After all, many people can learn to copy other people's handwriting with a little time and practice. It seems like it would be easy to get a copy of someone's signature or the required password and learn to forge it.

But biometric systems don't just look at how you shape each letter; they analyze the act of writing. They examine the pressure you use and the speed and rhythm with which you write. They also record the sequence in which you form letters, like whether you add dots and crosses as you go or after you finish the word.

Unlike the simple shapes of the letters, these traits are very difficult to forge. Even if someone else got a copy of your signature and traced it, the system probably wouldn't accept their forgery.

A handwriting recognition system's sensors can include a touch-sensitive writing surface or a pen that contains sensors that detect angle, pressure and direction. The software translates the handwriting into a graph and recognizes the small changes in a person's handwriting from day to day and over time.