Biometrics on The Silver Screen – What Hollywood Gets Wrong

It’s not uncommon to see biometric technology utilized as a plot device in movies, and with good reason–the fictional possibilities of this technology are as myriad as the practical ones. Sadly, biometric technology is often portrayed in ways that are gory, frightening, and just plain inaccurate. How does Hollywood get it wrong? Read on to get the inside scoop on how biometric technology really works, and look super-smart on your next movie night!




Borrowed Biometric Bypass: This trope refers to how characters–often villains–will cut through biometric security checkpoints using the dismembered body parts someone with access. It’s so familiar that it often leads to real world panic–remember how nervous people were with the Iphone came out with a fingerprint scanner? In reality, it’s nothing to be alarmed by; here’s why:


The Old Chopped-Off-Finger Trick: Nope–happily, you cannot use a dismembered finger to fool a fingerprint scanner. Modern biometric scanners use an RF signal to  scan past the dead tissue at the surface of the thumb. In addition to making it impossible to stick on a fake, surface level print, this means that if all the tissue is dead, the scanner won’t work.



The Old Detached-Eye-Ball Trick: Sorry, Spielberg: if Chief Anderton had really carried his eyes around, they would have quickly lost their shape. Feel free to breathe a big sigh of relief.



The Lean Way, Way In Thing: In movies, characters often lean in so close to iris scanners it seems like they might impale themselves, then wait patiently while a light slowly scans back and forth across their eye. In reality, modern iris scanners work within seconds, and can scan your eyes from six or more feet away.



Fortunately (unfortunately?)  most common real life applications of biometric technology aren’t nearly so exciting as in the movies, but they are a lot more practical–not to mention a lot less likely to lead to dismemberment. We’re always happy to answer any of your questions regarding biometric technology (no matter how wild!) and how to implement it for a more effective, more secure workplace and workforce.



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