Usability and Acceptability of Biometric Security Devices

Andrew Patrick & Sabrina Mu
National Research Council of Canada
Updated October 19, 2009

This collection of pages describes a new research project whose purpose is to investigate the usability and acceptability of biometric security devices. This is a new research area for us, so the work is exploratory and preliminary.


Heuristic Analysis Reports

To begin work in this area, we purchased a variety of biometric security devices, including fingerprint scanners, an iris scanner, and a behavioral solution based on typing rhythms. We have conducted preliminary heuristic usability analyses of these devices, and the reports are now available:

Sony Fingerprint Identification Unit Puppy fingerprint reader Digital Persona U.are.U Sensor U are U fingerprint reader
Targus DEFCON Authenticator Defcon fingerprint reader Panasonic Authenticam Authenticam Iris Scanner
   - (Study of BioPassword's adjustable parameters.)
BioPassword Logo

Usability Themes

The major result from the heuristic analysis of the biometric security devices was a set of themes about usability issues and opportunities. These have been summarized in the following reports:


In addition to studying the usability of biometric security devices, we are also interested in acceptability. In particular, we are interested in how people will accept biometric security devices in different contexts, where context can include their roles (work life, home life), their location (at their desk, at a bank, at an airport), or their task (logging-in, making a purchase, withdrawing cash at an ATM). We have started to develop a questionnaire that will solicit opinions on these issues.

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