Top Three Touchless Biometric Modalities for Sanitary Multifactor Authentication

As businesses begin reopening and offices are updating their layouts for social distancing, we’re having to take a fresh look at many of our standard practices for security and identification. Shared workstations or fingerprint time clocks are now a health concern, and even handing over credit cards for payment is potentially problematic. 

Combined with a desire for sanitary surfaces, face masks have made many common verification methods unviable. Facial authentication is ineffective with half of the face covered, and even simple ID checks for everyday things like purchasing alcohol are impossible with the jawline covered. 

Contactless Biometrics are Sanitary Biometrics

To offer secure MFA, biometrics need to be one of the factors you use to authenticate - but to also be sanitary, they need to be contactless. This can be accomplished in two distinct ways: through a contactless sensor that integrates into your overall access system, or out-of-band. 

Out of Band Authentication: A process that authenticates the user through a communications channel that is different from the main channel being used for access. An example of this would be getting a prompt from your GoVerifyID authenticator app to verify your identity when accessing sensitive information, such as HIPAA restricted patient data. 

Out of Band Authentication is more secure than in-band authentication (something we’ve recently received a new patent for), as it requires a hacker to circumvent or hack two communication channels rather than just one. If high security isn’t as much of a concern for your business, and you’re considering fast authentication methods for building access or workstation logins, then in-band, touchless biometric modalities are likely a good fit for you. 

With face masks covering nose and mouth the new normal for the next few months or years, it will be essential to use multifactor authentication that can accurately identify people even with parts of their face covered. 

Iris Scan

Iris scanning technology measures the unique patterns in the colored part of your eye. It’s fast and extremely accurate, and has historically been popular with law enforcement and government agencies. Due to how quickly it works, it’s ideal as a modality to gate physical access in areas with a lot of foot traffic. 


  • Can differentiate between twins
  • Your iris pattern does not change over your lifetime
  • Uses an infrared camera, so can be used at night or in the dark 
  • As long as the eye is visible, the reading can be taken - face masks won’t hinder accuracy 
  • Highly accurate


  • Not all mobile phones have iris scanning capabilities (making it unavailable for out-of-band authentication) 
  • For physical access control, a standalone sensor is needed
  • Not as accurate for 1:N searches (when using a mobile phone reader)

Palm Scan 

There are two ways a palm scan can be used for biometric authentication. Palm vein scans are more accurate than a fingerprint, and are commonly found in environments such as hospitals. Your vein patterns are set from before the time you are born, and are completely unique even in identical twins. The other option is a palm print, which is when you hold your palm about 6 inches above a sensor (can be as basic as the camera on your mobile phone), which captures the unique skin lines and creases on the skin of the palm. 

While ImageWare can incorporate palm vein scans in the Identity Platform, GoVerifyID uses the easier to deploy palm print scan. The pros and cons below reference the palm print scan. 


  • Easy to use on any mobile phone with a camera 
  • Ideal for timekeeping & attendance records 
  • Less intrusive feeling than iris scan 
  • Ideal for simple access control (shared work stations or out of band authentication)


  • Requires suitable lighting for the camera capturing the image 
  • Can be less convenient (have to lay mobile phone flat for capture) 
  • Not as well suited for high-traffic areas 

Voice Recognition 

Voice recognition measures individual characteristics  of someone’s voice and converts them in a digital format, similar to other biometric modalities. ImageWare uses a combination of best in class voice biometrics capabilities with passive voice liveness, which provides high accuracy and protects biometric authentication from a presentation attack (recording, computer-generated speech). 


  • Works with any mobile device or in omni-channel environment (call-center, mobile, web, virtual assistant, IoT)
  • Requires no training for the end user - just following the prompts to speak the passphrase
  • Suitable for contactless authentication (such as for healthcare workers) and for multi-modal environment (voice+face)  


  • Slightly less accurate than other touchless modalities
  • Background noise can interfere with authentication in some situations (airplane, rock concert)
  • Simplicity of UI can be perceived as less secure  

The easy way to offer sanitary biometric choices: GoVerifyID

If you’d like to learn more about a single solution to offer multiple modalities to all of your users, click below to set up time to talk with our team about GoVerifyID.

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