The Nerd Side Of Life

How Have Popular Movies Influenced the World of Biometrics?

There have been many times where we’ve watched a movie and thought, I wish that was available now. Biometric technologies have long been manipulated in science fiction movies to provide us with a futuristic world. Did these movies play a principal role in provoking a public dialogue about these technologies and how they could be implemented into the products we use today?

We might not be able to ever answer that question, but it’s clear that biometric technology from movies has appeared in our daily lives and these are some of the best examples. 

2001: A Space Odyssey

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Many will remember the ominous onboard computer, HAL 9000 was operated using voice recognition commands. In one of the movie’s most memorable scenes, Hal also has the ability to interpret emotions and lip-read, abilities used to chilling effect to attempt to protect itself from being disconnected.

Siri and Alexa are the big names, but speech recognition technology is commonplace now.

Judge Dredd

Not Sylvester Stallone’s best movie, but he did have an interesting gun. The title character, who is the law, had a special gun that recognized him using DNA matching. Called Lawgiver, this gun had a sensor on its grip to identify the palm-print of the authorized judge. If anyone else attempted to use the weapon it would self-destruct.

DNA is the most dependable source of biometric information for personal identification and ExpressVPN’s article on biometric risk tells you why you should take steps to ensure yours isn’t collected without your knowledge. DNA matching is used today in law enforcement, but more for identifying criminals than securing firearms.


In this all-time classic breath identification technology is operated to gain security access. 

This has yet to become a common-place type of biometric identification, but breath analysis may offer a rather inexpensive, prompt, and non-invasive method for detecting a variety of diseases that will aid the medical community.

Minority Report 

There’s a great scene in this movie where Tom Cruise’s character pays a dodgy surgeon (Peter Stormare) to replace his eye in order to avoid detection. Retina recognition technology is used a number of times in the movie, particularly by law enforcement drones.  

The FBI, CIA, and NASA, use retinal recognition technology for authentication and identification purposes. The technology is also being increasingly used in correctional facilities to identify prisoners.


The cyborg-cop uploads images of possible perps to the centralized database where facial recognition technology is employed to identify the criminals. We see the same form of technology used in The Fifth Element, which will be 25 years old this year according to Looper. In this instance, the technology is equipped to police vehicles. 

Airports all over the world are operating facial recognition technology to identify wrongdoers and reveal potential menaces as they enter airports or board flights.

Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation

Benji Dunn’s (Simon Pegg) mission is to break into a super-secure location and there are several layers of security to pass through, including gait analysis.

Gait analysis is a way to evaluate posture and coordination during movement and make any required corrections for a smooth gait. So, it exists, but as a form of medical treatment rather than a security protocol. We might not all have the hoverboard from Back to the Future, which is now a real thing, but there have been several technologies that started in movies and now have mainstream uses.

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