Biometrics are often seen as a fairly recent innovation in security system solutions, inspired in no small part by a wave of science fiction films and novels that explored the technology.
Facial recognition was seen in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek had early biometric indicators, Blade Runner used retina scans to determine humanity, and Back to the Future Part II had fingerprint locks on doors in 2015, when smart locks were entering the public consciousness.
However, the origin of biometrics goes back to Ancient Babylon in 2000BC, where fingerprints were used as a way to sign contracts and criminals had to have their prints taken.
Historians believe they did not know at the time that all fingerprints are unique, but it is fascinating that even in ancient history they realised that fingerprints were important, whether it was for ceremonial or identification purposes.
The first system of biometrics would take nearly 4000 years later, in 19th Century Paris. Before then, all criminology was done through eyewitness accounts, photographs if any existed and any indisputable evidence that the criminal essentially had to have been holding when he got captured.
Alphonse Bertillon, an anthropologist and criminologist sought to change that by creating an organised system that could be used to find suspects, which became known as bertillonage or occasionally signaletics.
Mr Bertillon found that people could be identified by their body measurements, the shape of their facial features, obvious features such as scars or tattoos, as well as facial characteristics.
This was converted into a formula, which was added to a card with a mug shot of the criminal, which could also be cross-indexed.
It worked, and in 1884 alone Mr Bertillon identified 241 previous offenders using the system, but there were major problems with using the system.
People’s measurements can differ depending on the measurer and would sometimes fail to match Mr Bertillon’s formula. It would be abandoned in favour of fingerprint ID, although taking down particulars and details of a suspect would be kept.