Technology changes the way we interact with the world almost on a daily basis. For instance, maybe you got a new iPhone at some point, and you set it up so that it can look at your face and open for the first time. Before, with older iPhone versions, there was just a passcode that you set up.
The face ID iPhone feature seemed almost like a miracle the first time you used it, but it became normal within a few days. That’s also how technology works: what seems miraculous becomes relatively commonplace, and it doesn’t take long at all for it to feel that way.
It’s the same with virtually any technology form. One day the first cars appeared, and within a year or two, they were everywhere, replacing horses. That is how it’s going to seem with biometrics, a new technology form that has already appeared in society but is rapidly becoming more popular.
The Clear line in airports is one example of biometrics at work, and we’re going to talk about it right now. We’ll cover how the Clear line works and whether you might want to sign up for this new service.
Identity Governance Runs the World
Before we get into biometrics and the Clear line at your local airport, we should talk a bit about identity governance. Identity governance is everywhere, and it’s just another way to say that one entity or another is trying to keep track of who you are.
There is nothing necessarily wrong with that. After all, you’d want your bank to confirm your identity so you can take money out. That’s why they will ask for a photo ID at your local branch’s teller’s window.
It’s the same thing when you’re trying to access your company’s computer network. There, you might encounter IGA, or Identity Governance and Administrationfeatures, but they are there for the same purpose. Again, some entity is trying to ascertain who you are so it can be sure you’re not a hacker or some other devious criminal who’s up to no good.
The point is that proving who you are matters in just about anything you do. That concept is not new. What’s new is biometrics, which we’ll get into right now.
- What Exactly is Biometrics?
- What About the Airport’s Clear Line?
- How Does It Work?
- Are There Any Drawbacks?
What Exactly is Biometrics?
Biometrics are calculations and body measurements. They relate to unique human characteristics. No two biomolecular structures are identical, meaning that no two human beings are identical.
Computer science is where biometrics can come in handy the most, though future applications are inevitable. Access control and identification through biometrics are becoming more commonplace. The iPhone facial recognition technology is the most common and widespread example right now.
The FBI and other entities are also using biometrics now to identify individuals in groups that they are surveilling. This is a way they are trying to catch terrorists. However, some people worry that the government or other entities are going to abuse the power that biometrics gives them.
What About the Airport’s Clear Line?
The Clear program is an interesting example of biometrics at work. Think about how long it can take you to stand in line at an airport. Maybe you’re trying to fly around Thanksgiving or Christmas, and you’re dealing with long lines. Perhaps you’re about to miss your flight, and you’re wondering if a better way exists.
That is why Known Traveler Numbers came out. The known traveler program allows you to answer a series of questions online so that you can get a known traveler number. Once you have it, you can get that number on your boarding pass, and you can go through a shorter line to get to your flight faster.
However, even that’s becoming slower, as more people are catching onto this system’s existence. You could say that the Clear program is the next logical extension in getting through airports faster and more efficiently.
How Does It Work?
With the Clear program, you pay for a yearly membership. If you know you’re going to travel at least a couple of times within a calendar year, it might be worth it to you. You sign up online, and then, when you go to the airport, you go through a system where a machine takes pictures of you and gets a sense of your biometric indicators.
Once this happens, you can walk through the Clear line, and you don’t even need to show your boarding pass. All you must do is slow down for a few seconds so the scanner can confirm the biometric indicators proving that it’s you.
These biometric indicators are almost impossible to fake. For now, at least, this is truly cutting-edge technology. Something new will definitely come along to replace it, but if you sign up for this system, you probably won’t be in as much danger of ever missing a flight.
Are There Any Drawbacks?
The next inevitable question is whether there are any drawbacks if you sign up for the Clear program. The first one is that there are only a few airports and other venues right now with Clear lines. The program is rolling out, and there will be more soon, but right now, the whole setup is in its infancy.
The other possible drawback is that some people worry about giving away their biometric signatures. They feel like the government or whatever other entity is going to start tracking them, and they will not have any privacy anymore.
It’s difficult to tell how legitimate of a concern that is at the moment. Nothing indicates that the Clear program is going to lead to increased surveillance, any more than setting up your iPhone with facial ID recognition will.
You will have to make your own personal decision about whether to do this or not. For a nominal fee, though, you have to admit that the idea of being able to waltz through the Clear line while everyone else waits sounds pretty appealing.