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How Biometric Access Control Works: Guide to Recognition Systems

September 27, 2023

No time to read? Here’s a summary:

  • Biometric access control, like standard access control, is used to limit site access to only those with authorization.
  • Biometric access control identifies users by comparing a live capture of a specific biological trait with traits stored in a database.
  • The three most common credentials used for biometric authentication are faces, fingerprints, and irises.

What Is Biometric Access Control?

Like all modern access control systems, biometric access control requires the presentation of a credential with identifying data at an access point reader. The identifying data is then transmitted to the system’s control panel, where it’s cross-checked against preprogrammed site authorizations. Entry is granted or denied accordingly.

Whereas most access control systems verify IDs by assessing electronic signals transmitted by credentials (like proximity cards), biometric systems recognize individuals directly by assessing unique physiological characteristics.  

In this blog post, we’ll explore the mechanics behind biometric access control and focus on the three credentials they most commonly require: fingerprints, irises, and faces.

How Biometric Access Control Works

Capture: When a person attempts to access an area secured by biometric access control, the system will capture an impression of the biological trait it uses for identification.

Extraction: It then extracts specific data points from the impression and converts those points into a mathematical representation (rather than a raw image). Robust encryption and security protocols are also implemented to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of the data.

Authentication Check: The digital data is compared with stored templates in the access control database for authentication.

Authorization Check: If authenticated, the data is transmitted to a control panel, where it’s cross-checked against site authorizations.

Decision: If there’s a match between the ID and a site’s authorizations, access is granted; otherwise, it’s denied.

3 Common Types of Biometric Access Control

Fingerprint Recognition

Fingerprint recognition is one of the most common and mature biometric technologies. Its speed, accuracy, and relatively low cost have made fingerprint recognition the most common type of biometric access control for commercial security.

This is how it works: A sensor captures the pattern of ridges and valleys in a fingerprint. Algorithms then extract features like minutiae points, which are unique to each fingerprint. The extracted data is compared with stored data for authentication and authorization, and access is granted when there’s a match between presented fingerprints and site authorizations.

Iris Recognition

Iris recognition is famous for its high level of accuracy and is often used in high-security environments. Iris recognition involves scanning the unique pattern found in a person's eye. Iris recognition access control requires high-resolution security cameras to capture the intricate details of the iris. These details are then extracted and compared to the irises in a database and site authorization lists. Access is granted or denied accordingly.

Face Recognition

Facial recognition technology analyzes facial features to identify individuals. Due to its relatively non-intrusive nature, this technology is increasingly being leveraged both for commercial-grade security applications and in consumer devices.

This is how it works: a camera captures images of a face, and algorithms then extract facial landmarks, such as the distance between the eyes or the shape of the nose. Depending on matches with stored data, access is then granted or denied.

How Much Does a Biometric Access Control System Cost?

The cost of a biometric access control system can vary widely depending on the type, complexity, and application.

Basic fingerprint scanners for personal use may cost as little as a few hundred dollars, while sophisticated iris recognition systems for high-security environments may run into the thousands.

Consult with security professionals, like those on our team at Mammoth Security, for assistance in determining the best type of access control for your specific budget and needs.

Mammoth Security and Access Control

You can trust our team at Mammoth Security to develop and install the right security solutions to protect your commercial property. From alarms and access control to cameras and cabling, we’re Connecticut’s one-stop shop for all things security.

To set up a free, zero-obligation site consultation with a friendly member of our team, just fill out the simple form below. You’ll meet an expert security system engineer who’ll survey your property, discuss your security concerns, and begin to develop a security system that’s expertly tailored to your site’s unique layout and needs.




Biometric Access Control is a type of access control that uses unique physiological characteristics, such as fingerprints, iris patterns, or facial features, to grant or deny access. It involves capturing a biometric trait, extracting specific data points, comparing them with pre-stored templates, and making an access decision based on a site’s particular authorizations.

The different types of biometric access control are fingerprint recognition, iris recognition, face recognition, voice recognition, and hand geometry. Biometric access control is highly secure because it relies on unique physical traits that are nearly impossible to replicate.

Yes, biometric access control is highly secure because it relies on unique biological characteristics for identification. While no system is entirely infallible, the complexity and uniqueness of biometric traits make them difficult to forge or manipulate.

Absolutely! Biometric access control is versatile and can be used in both residential and commercial settings. From smartphones with fingerprint authentication to office buildings utilizing face recognition, the technology is adaptable to various security needs and levels.

Biometric access control offers several advantages over traditional methods, including enhanced security, convenience, and efficiency. Unlike passwords or keys, biometric traits cannot be forgotten or easily replicated. They provide faster access without compromising security, and they reduce the risk of unauthorized access.



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