Facial biometrics make Aadhaar for elderly near foolproof

The introduction of facial identification along with use of fingerprints promises to substantially address complaints of failed biometrics in Aadhaar authentication with a study of elder persons showing that when used in combination, the processes deliver a success rate of 99%.

A proof of conduct study carried out for Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the results of which were presented to the Supreme Court, showed that acceptance of Aadhaar identification rose from 83% for senior citizens to close to 100% once facial recognition was mated with fingerprints for authentication.

The findings are encouraging for UID as the problems faced by elder citizens, whose fingerprints are some times worn out due to age and cannot be captured by authentication machines, are hurdles in access to pensions and welfare benefits. The problems of smudged biometrics also crop up in the case of persons involved in hard manual labour with fingers getting cracked and calloused.

The study, conduced in old-age homes in nine states, and covering about 4,500 respondents, tested authentication processes with the use of fingerprints, iris, fingerprint with iris and facial recognition with fingerprint. The fingerprint with iris method also scored a success rate of 95% acceptance.

The iris method of authentication, in the case of senior citizens, suffers from drawbacks similar to the use of fingerprints. The capture of biometric confirmation is problematic with changes in the iris due to age and insertion of medical devices like lenses or conditions like cataract or glaucoma. Yet, the iris method scored higher than the fingerprint identification alone.

UID has worked to increase options and sophistication of technology to reduce authentication failures among groups like seniors and labourers as this takes away from important objectives associated with Aadhaar such as facilitating bank access and direct transfers to vulnerable groups. The use of Aadhaar is intended to make transfer and withdrawal of pensions and life certificate authentications easier.

The authentication process remains vulnerable to lack of internet connectivity in rural India and UID has issued advisories that lack of Aadhaar cannot result in denial of services. It hopes that with the increasing use of Aadhaar the system will improve.economictimes

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