“3 times faster!”

I have no intention of using fingerprint recognition to access any of my devices. The time may come when none of us has a choice about this but for now I will stick with increasingly complex passwords and 2-step authentication. An enthusiastic Windows Blog from late last month announces the following:

We’re excited to announce that BIO-key International, Inc. has launched three new compact USB fingerprint reader accessories … These devices enable you to login conveniently and securely to your Windows 10 PC with a simple swipe or touch. With Windows Hello* you can sign into your Windows devices in less than 2 seconds – that’s 3 times faster** than a password that you have to remember and type in…

The double asterisk points you to this footnote:

** Based on average time comparison between typing a password respectively detecting a face or fingerprint to authentication success

“3 times faster” sounds great, which is why they phrase it this way. “3 seconds faster” doesn’t sound so impressive, and this is what they mean. I interpret the phrase “less than 2 seconds” in the above quote to mean 1.5 seconds, so rather than taking up to 4.5 seconds to type your password you can save a whole 3 seconds, every time you login, by using fingerprint technology. There might be people who would quibble and say, “No, you can save up to 4 seconds – that’s 25% more than the 3 seconds that you claim”, but that doesnt really sweeten the deal for me. .

In many obvious ways I am all about efficiency. I touch-type and use AutoText so that my words are drafted as quickly as possible, and to minimize proof-reading. When travelling on the tube I stand by the door that will get me out of the station, or to an interchange, as quickly as possible. (I wrote about it here, “Where to get off”.) These habits have saved me thousands of hours creating and proof-reading documents and travelling around London. No matter how many devices I have to login to, and no matter how often, fingerprint technology will never save me as much as two minutes per day. Now if someone could make my daily commute (currently 45 minutes each way, Monday to Friday) “3 times faster!” I would be very interested.


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