Technology capturing fingerprint for access

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When Seattle Seahawks’ fans descend upon CenturyLink Field this season, they’ll be able to skip the concession lines thanks to biometrics. They won’t have to spend 20 minutes shushing hungry kids in line or fumble for their IDs to buy beer. Instead, they can scan their fingerprint in a separate checkout lane and instantly pay for their food or drinks.


CenturyLink Field has partnered with CLEAR, a biometrics company working with stadiums and airports in 35 cities across the United States, to collect fingerprints. Football fans are already able to pay for beer or food by scanning their fingerprints at CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field in Seattle, Coors Field in Denver, SunTrust Park in Atlanta, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, and other locations.


The goal is streamlined sales, and ultimately, to improve the fan experience.


How It Works

Biometrics is a way to authenticate a person’s identity through unique personal characteristics. The two main categories of biometrics are physiological and behavioral. Physiological biometrics include fingerprints, iris scans, DNA and facial scans. Behavioral biometrics include a person’s voice, signature, keystrokes or gait.


Caryn Seidman Becker, the CEO of CLEAR, explains that the biometrics technology started in airports.


To use the technology, fans first register at the CLEAR sign-up kiosks inside the stadium by scanning their IDs and fingerprints, answering questions, and making an account. The automated process takes about 10 minutes, and they only have to register once. The kiosks are open three hours before football games start.


After registering, fans can pay for food and drinks with a scan of their fingerprints at separate CLEAR checkout lanes at concessions. Because registration requires IDs, the technology can automatically check legal age and make sure the fans are old enough to drink beer before buying it.


Soon, fans may see fingerprint scanners at the entrances as well.


“Biometrics ticketing at sports stadiums will enable fans to enter the game with just their fingerprint. No mobile or paper ticket required,” says Becker.


No fumbling with smart phone screens at the gate, or waiting while someone figures out which pocket they stuffed their ticket into.


Benefits and Risks

Dr. Kevin W. Bowyer, a professor at the University of Notre Dame, says that the benefits of biometrics for consumers are generally some mixture of increased security and increased convenience. It’s easier to scan your fingerprint than to remember a password or pin code.


Biometrics also makes it more difficult for someone else to pretend to be you, and use a fake ID, explains Noel Moran, CEO of Prepaid Financial Services Limited (PFS) in London, a company that offers fingerprint authentication in apps.


Both Bowyer and Moran note that biometrics isn’t foolproof. Scanners can fail. They can create false positives and false negatives. For instance, some scanners are fooled by photos of a fingerprint, while others occasionally fail to recognize a real fingerprint from a user.


“I think that the biggest risk is that people will somehow oversimplify and assume that biometrics provides some sort of perfect solution. We should always remember that no technology is perfect,” states Bowyer.


Future of Biometrics

Bowyer and Moran predict that biometrics use is poised to grow.


“Biometrics will go mainstream in the payments industry eventually. You’ll be able to use facial recognition or fingerprints when paying with a credit or debit card. Also, biometric-enabled wearables, like clothing, gadgets and keys, will become more popular,” shares Moran.


But for now, if families want to experience the next wave of the future in customer service, they might just want to check out a stadium on game day. Just make sure your fingertips are clean.


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