A Sad Tale of Biometrics Gone Wrong
From The Daily WTF:
Johnny was what you might call a "gym rat." In incredible shape from almost-daily gym visits, a tight Lycra tank top, iPod strapped to his sizable bicep, underneath which was a large black tribal tattoo. He scanned his finger on his way out, but the turnstile wouldn't budge.
"Uh, just a second," the receptionist furiously typed and clicked, while Johnny removed one of his earbuds out and stared. "I'll just have to manually override it..." but it was useless. There was no manual override option. Somehow, it was never considered that the scanner would malfunction. After several seconds of searching and having Johnny try to scan his finger again, the receptionist instructed him just to jump over the turnstile.
It was later discovered that the system required a "sign in" and a "sign out," and if a member was recognized as someone else when attempting to sign out, the system rejected the input, and the turnstile remained locked in position. This was not good.
The scene repeated itself several times that day. Worse, the fingerprint scanner at the exit was getting kind of disgusting. Dozens of sweaty fingerprints required the scanner to be cleaned hourly, and even after it was freshly cleaned, it sometimes still couldn't read fingerprints right. The latticed patterns on the barbell grips would leave indented patterns temporarily on the members' fingers, there could be small cuts or folds on fingertips just from carrying weights or scrapes on the concrete coming out of the pool, fingers were wrinkly after a long swim, or sometimes the system just misidentified the person for no apparent reason.
Me on biometrics.
Posted on April 30, 2009 at 6:19 AM • 66 Comments