Traditionally, a person might enter a password or pull out a driver's license or passport as proof of identity. But increasingly, identification and authentication can also require an eye scan or a well-placed hand. It's a science known as biometrics, recognizing individuals based on their physical or behavioral characteristics. The structure of the face, the geometrics of the hand, the ridges of a fingerprint, the patterns in an iris--every person carries multiple human traits that are a unique form of personal identification. "The primary advantage of a biometric trait is that it belongs to that individual. You're implicitly connected to it, unlike passwords or tokens or passports, which are external to an individual," says Arun Ross, a computer science and electrical engineering professor at West Virginia University, one of three institutions where the National Science Foundation is helping to fund a coalition of biometrics research sites. The Center for Identification Technology Research, or CITeR, as the coalition is known, is an example of the important role that public and private funding can play in the innovation process. Find out more in this video.  Credit: NBC Learn, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and National Science Foundation
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