Biometrics Burgeoning To Mixed Reviews

Everything from fingerprint to facial patterns to iris scanners are becoming more and more prevelent in society all over the world. Once primarily used in large corporate and military settings, biometrics are showing up in such places as airport terminals, hotels and even Piggly Wiggly grocery stores in the U.S.

Reactions to replacing locker keys with fingerprint scans were mixed at the Statue of Liberty lockers. "I think it's overly complicated. It takes too much time," said Stephen Chemsak, 26, who lives in Japan. Brad Hill, whose family business has run the concessions for the island for 73 years, stated, "Biometrics seemed the most logical choice." After all, he added with a laugh, people "don't lose their finger." In applications like the biometric lockers, the print itself is not stored or sent to authorities.

Biometrics are currently being tested in four Piggly Wiggly grocery stores in South Carolina. They're "pay-by-fingerprint" system claims to offers speed, convenience and protection against credit card theft. Such systems install in fast food restaurants weren't met with much enthusiasm, but Dean Douglas, vice president at IBM Corp., which is handling the technology for Piggly Wiggly's finger-scanning system, claims that could all change now that credit card fraud and identity theft have emerged as bigger problems.

"Within the next five to 10 years," Douglas predicted, "we're going to see biometrics play an increasingly large part of consumer transactions.

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