The Current State of Biometric Technology

Paul Azorin
Sep 8, 2019 · 5 min read

Biometric technology has long promised to transform the way that people interact with electronics. In addition, experts have predicted that the successful development of this technology will help alleviate many of the data privacy issues that consumers worry about today.

That promise is a major reason why the global biometrics market is predicted to be worth more than $59 billion by 2025. Big tech firms, governmental organizations, and custom software developers are all investing millions of dollars to make this technology more reliable and trustworthy.

Soon, consumers will be able to use biometric markers, like fingerprints, iris scans, and their voice, to quickly and safely access their electronic devices and personal information. Healthcare companies and law enforcement are also adopting the technology in order to increase efficiency, protect valuable personal data, and to find criminals before they cause additional harm.

What is BioMetric Technology?

Biometrics is a term used to refer to technology that identifies individuals through unique body measurements and patterns, including fingerprints, facial patterns, iris scanning, and more.

Companies and governmental organizations must first build a database of relevant biometric information. They then use their stored biometric templates to assess whether someone attempting to gain access to the system matches an authorized user.

Types of Biometric Technology

There are several types of biometric scanning used today. Fingerprint scanning is likely the most recognizable of these approaches. However, recent innovations in data analysis and machine learning have enabled tech companies to build more accurate alternatives, such as face recognition, voice activation, and iris scanning.

Fingerprint Scanning

The most common type of biometric technology is fingerprint scanning. This technology looks for unique features in a person’s fingerprint, including arches, loops, edges, furrows, and whorls, to quickly identify them.

It has become widespread in the past two decades. Consumers are now able to access a range of electronic devices, including cell phones, computers, gun safes, and more.

This type of biometric scanning is considered to be very reliable and works with a high degree of accuracy, which is one reason why financial institutions, like the UK-based NatWest, are rolling out fingerprint-enabled debit cards.

Iris Analysis

Iris analysis is becoming increasingly popular in the biometric community because it offers many of the same benefits as scanning a fingerprint — no two human irides are the same. An iris is also an ideal approach to biometric recognition because the human eye has such a vibrant color profile and unique, detailed iris patterns.

The United States military is one of the earliest adopters of iris-scanning biometric technology. They use iris scanning to rapidly identify captured enemy soldiers and suspected terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. They can quickly transmit this biometric data to the FBI database in West Virginia, receiving a reliable identity result in minutes.

Face Recognition

While face recognition has been around for the past several decades, the technology is finally beginning to come into its own. This approach uses facial structure and up to 80 nodal points, such as the distance between the nose and mouth, on the human face to accurately identify a person.

Social media companies are leaders in the facial recognition field. Facebook rolled out a facial recognition program in late 2017. The company used its store of billions of user-uploaded photos to create a facial recognition database that can tag users on new photos using past pictures as a reference.

Voice Identification

Voice-activated technology has become widespread in the past decade, starting with the release of Apple Computer’s voice-activated assistant Siri in 2010. This approach uses nasal tone, inflection, cadence, and voice frequency to authenticate the user.

Law enforcement has recently taken the lead on this technology. The NYPD, for example, is using a combination of voice identification and facial recognition software to find criminals and to prevent terrorist attacks.

Biometric Applications

Consumer Devices

Electronics manufacturers are integrating into many new cell phones, computers, home security systems, and more.

The most popular type of biometrics used in consumer electronics is fingerprint scanning. This technology is highly reliable and accurate. This means that customers can set up biometric access with confidence.

For example, the global biometric car market is expected to reach $300 million by 2025. The luxury car manufacturer Porsche recently announced a partnership with the custom software development services Foghorn.

The two companies recently developed their multi-factor authentication prototype. It uses video analytics and the owner’s smartphone to thwart car thieves. The car automatically connects with the driver’s smartphone and uses facial recognition to ensure that the driver is the right person.

Law Enforcement

Law enforcement organizations across the world are rapidly becoming experts on the use of biometrics to solve and prevent crimes.

Local police departments, like the previously-mentioned NYPD, are using a combination of cameras and strategically-placed microphones to build a database of biometric features. This database is currently helping police identify violent suspects, solve crimes, and prevent major terrorist attacks.

Interpol is another great example of a law enforcement organization that is taking the lead in voice identification technology. The group recently witnessed the benefits of custom software development when their Speaker Identification Integrated Project (SiiP) was released last year.

The program can upload a voice sample and use billions of cell phone records to identify the caller, regardless of the spoken language or accent. This is helping both international and domestic law enforcement organizations identify and break up major criminal enterprises and terrorist organizations.

Healthcare

The healthcare community has been late to adopt biometric technology, but things are changing quickly. Hospitals, in particular, are embracing biometrics to reduce the number of patient errors and misidentifications.

In the future, physicians and other medical professionals will use biometric data to verify the patient’s identity at every stage of the process — from the initial check-in up until they are discharged. This will not only help reduce the number of mistakes, but it will also help clean up electronic health record systems that are clogged with duplicate files.

Hospitals will begin by creating a patient identification record during their first check-in. This will include traditional information, like name, social security number, and other personal data. But, it will soon include things like fingerprints, face shape, iris scans, and a voice sample.

This data can be used during every stage of the treatment process to ensure that the right patient file is being used. In addition, administrators can use biometrics to prevent identity misidentification and insurance fraud.

Conclusion

Biometrics is emerging as one of the most important technological trends of the past 20 years. The technology has become so widespread that it can now be found on consumer devices, as well as in the private sector, governmental agencies, and in law enforcement operations.

Major tech firms and custom software development companies are reacting to this new trend by investing millions into biometric startups.

Consumers can expect to see biometrics become even more widespread over the next decade as important technologies, like facial recognition and iris analysis, become even more accurate.

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Paul Azorin

Written by

Paul Azorín is the Founder and Chief Technology Officer at BairesDev. He has over ten years of experience working as a software architect.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +725K followers.

Paul Azorin

Written by

Paul Azorín is the Founder and Chief Technology Officer at BairesDev. He has over ten years of experience working as a software architect.

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +725K followers.

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