Explainer: Biometric Middleware

Biometric middleware is authentication software that enables various biometric devices and technologies and allows the match or no—match decisions made by core technologies to provide authentication to various PC applications and resources. Middleware solutions may be compatible with as few as five and as many as 25 different authentication solutions, with a focus on biometrics but also including smart cards and tokens. Authentication through these devices can provide access to operating systems, applications, or other protected resources.

Middleware solutions can be seen as platforms or infrastructures that reduce dependence on a single type of biometric hardware, allowing users to plug new devices into the infrastructure as required.

The basic rationale behind biometric middleware is that enterprises, software developers, and merchants want to integrate biometric functionality into their daily operations, products, or services, but do not want to be tied to a specific biometric device, solution, or technology. Currently almost all middleware solutions are deployed in employee-facing enterprise implementations. Over time, it is expected that middleware will play a large role in customer-facing applications, as it is nearly certain that home users will have access to a variety of competing hardware solutions that include finger-scan, voice-scan, and iris-scan. Merchants will be interested in enabling these solutions.

Middleware of some type will be required to bridge the gap between the end user and the merchant. We can also expect software vendors that produce operating systems to incorporate a biometric middleware with the result that competing middleware offerings will need to focus less on PC/network access smart card and more on customer-facing and transactional applications of their software.

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