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Biometrics face off: retina vs face recognition vs fingerprint scanner

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Biometrics scanners - retina vs face - fingerprint Source: Pocketnow

Biometric sensors have taken off rapidly in the past few years. They can be found in a lot of general products such as smartphones, tablets, computers, portable storage, and many more accessories. Some places, such as gyms, also allow users to scan their fingerprints and easily access physical locations.

There are three popular biometric methods for unlocking devices and scanning whether the person is who they say they are. The most popular method for authenticating people is the fingerprint sensor, since it’s relatively cheap to integrate and can be adapted to a large variety of products.

What is a retina scanner?

Iris Scanner on the Samsung Galaxy Note 7

The first option on our list is a retina scanner (also known as “eye” or “iris”). This method verifies the person’s retina blood vessels and veins to validate and authorize access. The Samsung Galaxy S series was popular to implement such a feature. It worked great in most cases, but it would sometime misfire and not let the person into their device, requiring users to enter their pin or password.

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Now, the scanners used by smartphones are scaled-down versions of real, large scanners, which are far more powerful and harder to trick. The retina scanner was slowly scaled back and phased out in favor of the fingerprint and face recognition technology, which offered a more seamless authentication process that was later fully integrated and supported in Android and iOS.

The retina scanner is often called the most effective and most secure way of protecting sensitive materials, and it’s known to be used by governments and military across the world to prevent unauthorized access. It can also be tricked like most other biometric technologies, but it’s often more complex than other methods.

What is face recognition?

Face recognition isn’t new, but it has only become more widespread and popular in the past few years. The iPhone X wasn’t the first device to come with face recognition, but it was the first smartphone to make it popular and familiarise people with the technology. Face recognition often involves multiple sensors to scan a person’s face to authenticate and provide access to a smartphone, tablet, laptop, and other devices.

Recently, face recognition has been implemented in CCTV cameras, and many large companies use it to track employees and content on the internet. It allows faster scanning, and it provides relatively accurate results.

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Microsoft also uses face recognition, also known as Windows Hello, to authenticate and sign people in automatically, once recognized and verified. Smartphones such as recent iPhone devices also heavily rely on Face ID technology to verify people’s faces, make purchases, approve payments, and make other important decisions. Face recognition is hard to trick on smartphones, but there are cases where users were able to trick the system, and face recognition wasn’t a much-loved feature over the past two years, while all of us were required to enter a pin, since it didn’t recognize faces under the mask. Fortunately, that is a thing of the past since iOS 15.4 started supporting Face ID for those wearing masks.

If you’re interested in the Face ID technology and how it evolved over the years, we have an excellent article that goes down on memory lane with important information.

What is a fingerprint sensor?

The fingerprint scanner is one of the most popular and effective ways of verifying a person’s identification, and it’s often used in security industries, smartphones, tablets, computers, and even at police stations and gyms. It scans the patterns of friction ridges of a fingerprint, which is unique to each and every person, and it doesn’t change over a person’s lifetime.

It’s worth noting that a person’s fingerprint can fade over time, and it’s possible to scrape off, which happens to those who do many physical jobs. The fingerprint sensor supports various types of scanners, each providing faster speeds of unlocking smartphones and improving efficiency and security. The four types of fingerprint scanners include:

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  • Optical scanners
  • Capacitive scanners
  • Ultrasonic scanners
  • Thermal Scanners

All of the fingerprint scanner methods can be fooled and tricked with photos of fingerprints, special prints using 3D printers, and software. It’s important to note that while it provides easy and safe authentication, it’s far from the most secure biometric solution on the market, and it’s usually included alongside other forms of verifying a person’s identity.

Most modern smartphones have a fingerprint sensor either under the display, side, or back. They provide safe and quick access to personal and confidential information such as credit cars, addresses, images, passwords, etc.

Which biometrics authentication method is the best?

There’s no right or wrong answer, and each method has its own advantages and disadvantages. A proper retina scanner is often too large, and it cannot be fitted in smartphones, and it’s also slower than face recognition and fingerprint, even if it’s safer. The face recognition technology is safe and secure, but if an object is covering a small portion of an individual’s face, it will fail most of the time to recognize the person. Even if the software can identify, there are some increased security concerns.

The fingerprint solution is far from the best, but it’s one of the fastest and most used methods of providing access to physical places, smartphones, tablets, computers, and other devices.

The main reason why most manufacturers implement and include at least two biometrics authentication methods is simple; it gives users a choice. When a user’s finger is wet, they’ll have to wipe and clean it to get it recognized by the fingerprint reader. In contrast, face recognition should be smart enough to identify and acknowledge the person, letting them go ahead with a purchase or unlocking the device.

It’s also worth mentioning that smartphones such as OnePlus, and recent Samsung devices do not have specific hardware to identify and recognize faces. They only rely on the front camera to verify the person’s face. This system isn’t safe by any measurable standard, but training AI, it’s getting harder to fool and trick these systems. It also provides an easy way to unlock the device when required, but we don’t recommend using it as the only form of protection.

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Choosing the best biometric method depends on the use case, and how secure it must be. A bank or police station may even opt to use all three, alongside other security measures, to ensure confidential information is kept away and private from unauthorized people. Data centers also often use facial recognition in video surveillance equipment to prevent unauthorized people from entering buildings. Once a person is flagged as unverified, it can trigger and sound off an alarm to security agents.

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Google TV Gets Its Profiles

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Google TV, the slick TV-focused operating system skin from Google that runs on its cute little Chromecast with Google TV dongle, is getting profiles this week. You may be thinking that sounds familiar, and well yeah, that’s because profiles were announced in October of last year. They are really here this time, though, we think.

In October, because Google told us to expect profiles “soon,” we explained them this way and told you how setup would work:

With profiles on Google TV, Google is giving each person recommendations based on interests and preferences, access to an individual watchlist, and recommendation help from Google Assistant, again, based on your personalized tastes. So going forward, when you fire up that little baby Google TV remote, you’ll be able to choose your own account to get to watching.

To setup a new profile, you should be able to swipe over to your account icon (top right), and then add another account, just like you would if you were trying to add a kid profile.

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Fun! So when exactly can you get profiles up and running? Google would only commit to begin rolling out today, with rollout taking place to all users “over the next few weeks.” You may see the option today or it may be weeks out. Either way, rollout has apparently started.



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Galaxy Watch 4 Owners, Google Assistant Arrives

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Samsung and Google took their time, but Google Assistant is now available on the Galaxy Watch 4 series (So much for this summer?). After almost a year of waiting, Google Assistant arrives as an app that can be installed on either Watch 4 model to then be accessed as a voice assistant from the wrist.

The introduction of Google Assistant after all this time does not mean that Samsung’s Bixby is going anywhere. Instead, the two companies are talking about how you will be able to access both Bixby and Google Assistant.

Using Google Assistant from a Galaxy Watch 4 means getting help with on-the-go questions and “access to fast, more natural voice interactions,” according to Samsung. Let’s just hope it works more seamlessly as a stand-alone app than it does on all of the other non-Samsung Wear OS watches who have had pretty lackluster Assistant experiences over the years.

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As far as availability, rollout begins today in 10 markets: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, The UK and USA.

At the time of this post, we still aren’t seeing Assistant available to our Galaxy Watch 4 units. Once it shows up and we have a better understanding of how to get it up and running, we’ll share those details. Verizon slipped a month ago and showed a potential setup guide, which you can still view here.

// Samsung



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Google Play Store Gets a Massive Design Update

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Making a stop through Google Play’s web store this morning on my commute presented me with quite the surprise. Look at this new web layout!

Google Play, for those who haven’t visited the web experience in some time, hasn’t been properly updated in more years than I keep track of. It is as dated as a web experience can get from a company as large as Google and who typically tries to push design ideas across the tech landscape. It has needed an overhaul for a while.

In the new layout, we’re getting a lot of white and empty space when expanded onto a large screen. The experience now starts on a “Games” tab like the Play Store on your phone or tablet, with categories at the top for “Apps,” “Movies & TV,” “Books,” and “Kids” next to it. There are quick controls to switch between phones, tablets, TVs, and Chromebooks as well, and you have to wonder if a Watch option might be there soon enough.

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New Google Play

Once you navigate to an app or game listing, there’s more white, but also a modernized look. App icons are now a borderline squircle with shadow, instead of just a box because the app developer only made a square logo. You don’t have to scroll much to see similar apps or to contact the developer, plus the “Install” button is much more prominent. The actual install pop-up, where you select a device, is still the old UI for now.

Maybe most importantly, the recently “Updated on” date isn’t buried at the bottom of the listing and is now just below the app’s description. Now, when you find an app and wonder if it’s an outdated mess or properly maintained before installing it, you won’t have to dig very far.

Should you need to access your library, payments and subscriptions, activity, offers, Play Points, Family settings, etc., you’ll do so by clicking on your profile button in the top right. This matches up to most of Google’s apps at this point and should be a familiar place to look for most of you.

New Google Play

Overall, I’d consider this a clean simplification of an outdated layout. Gone is the sidebar that weirdly pushed you to “Entertainment” for years; in is a straight-forward, online app store that would rather you find games over movies.

To access this, Google likely has to have pushed it to your account. The current default URL for it is play.google.com/store/games. My personal Gmail account is seeing it, while my GSuite account unsurprisingly isn’t.

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