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The solution is easier at nuclear reactors and may involve biometric security devices such as fingerprint or iris scanners.
But not every door needs the security of a nuclear reactor.
Now researchers have invented an inexpensive, sensor-riddled door that recognizes the person passing through without the need of a key or a card or the inconvenience of stopping to scan a finger or an eye.
The Wisdom Door, created by students at Duke University in Durham, N.C., could not only provide security but could also be rigged to control home electronics, so that when the person passes through the door, a room automatically lights up, plays music, or switches to a television channel all according to personal preference.
Nine sensors work together to make the door a walk-through security device.
Above the doorway is an ultrasonic sensor that constantly beams a signal downward. When a person passes underneath, the signal bounces off his head and travels back to the sensor.
Four infrared signals in the doorframe determine a person's width and girth.
The sensors are positioned two on each side of the frame, with two sensors on the outside of the frame and two on the inside.
When a person walks through the door, they break the infrared beams at a specific location.
The computer subtracts the distance of the breaks from the total width of the door to come up with the person's width.
The attackers forced Mr Kumaran to put his finger on the security panel to start the vehicle, bundled him into the back seat and drove off.
But having stripped the car, the thieves became frustrated when they wanted to restart it. They found they again could not bypass the immobiliser, which needs the owner's fingerprint to disarm it.
They stripped Mr Kumaran naked and left him by the side of the road - but not before cutting off the end of his index finger with a machete.