Should Your Home Security System Use Biometrics?

If you’re looking to beef up your home’s security in order to increase your family’s safety, protect your possessions, and even lower your homeowners insurance, then you are probably researching many of the alarm systems out there. All the options and features can be pretty daunting. Should consider a monitored system or not? Should you get a system that’s hooked up to your computer and can be checked on over the Internet? Do you need video surveillance cameras? Do you need biometrics?

Wait a minute, what is biometrics anyway?

This article can’t cover all the different features, options, and equipment related to burglar alarms and home security systems, but we can get you up to speed on biometrics.

First off, what is it?

Basically, biometrics is a way of controlling access to a system (whether your computer, your car, or your home) by comparing some physical aspect of a person (i.e. fingerprint or handprint or–in more expensive systems even eyeball retina scans) with information stored in an electronic file. When a match is made, access is granted.

In short, biometrics tests who you are instead of what you can remember (codes, passwords, etc.).

When it comes to home security systems, you’re most likely to see fingerprint readers. For example, fingerprint activated door locks are becoming popular replacements to the typical lock and key systems. (A fingerprint door lock can be great even if you’re not thinking about security and you just want to be able to get into your house when you’ve lost your key or have your arms full of grocery bags!)

How is biometrics used in home security?

As we’ve mentioned, biometric fingerprint door locks are becoming more and more common. Other places in your home where you may use biometrics include safes, computers, and to access the panel of your security system.

If you’re familiar with the systems that require you to enter a numeric code after stepping into the house (and if you don’t remember the code in time, then you’re in trouble), then imagine just pressing your finger or thumb to a reader instead of having to punch in a code. This can be particularly helpful for children who might have trouble figuring out codes. When you get the security system, you simply program the control panel to recognize the fingerprints of everyone in the family (or everyone you want to have access to your home), and arming and disarming the alarm system becomes a snap.

It’s generally easy to change access too. If you want to give your nanny or house sitter access to your home while you’re away, then you can just add their fingerprint to the file. When you don’t want them to be able to arm or disarm the security system any more, it’s a simple matter to remove their access.

What about advantages or disadvantages to biometrics?

We’ve already touched upon some of the advantages of this technology. With biometrics, you increase convenience, eliminate the annoyance of remembering PINs and passwords, get rid of the need for keys, and in many cases increase security since biometrics are extremely hard to forge (no more worrying about if some unscrupulous visitor might make a copy of your key).

Disadvantages of biometrics are relatively few, but expense may be considered one. For example, a fingerprint door lock will cost you at least a couple hundred dollars while you could pick up a new key-and-lock set at the home improvement store for $20.

As you can see, however, there are many reasons why you might incorporate biometrics into your home security plan. As long as you are going through the expense of installing a burglar alarm system, this might be something to consider.

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