Internet of Things Gives Biometrics a Boost

The Internet of Things (IoT) is intended to be extensible and designed so that users and developers could easily add to its functionality. So it is expected that the IoT will be everywhere, and it will be used for getting all kinds of data. According to a recent Biometrics Research Group study, biometric sensors are going to be a big part of providing security for access to that data.

The forecast made by the Biometrics Research Group, Inc. is that the IoT will be responsible for the existence of at least 500 million biometric sensors by the year 2018. This is very good news for the biometrics industry.

A biometric sensor makes use of an individual’s unique behavioral or physical traits, such as his or her fingerprints, for identification. Such identification is valuable because it is inherently more secure and it saves you time. You no longer have to input a password or even find keys. It’s something that you cannot forget, misplace, or lose. Biometric sensors are relatively new to consumers. If you have an Apple device, you might have used its Touch ID sensor to unlock your device, but for the most these types of sensors are used in high-end access control and security applications.

But biometric sensors are slowly getting traction in the consumer world, especially since gaining the support of the Fast Identity Online (FIDO) Alliance. The Alliance is led by some of the biggest names in finance and tech, including PayPal, Lenovo, eBay, Blackberry, Google, Nok Nok Labs, Discover Financial Services, MasterCard Worldwide, Microsoft, NXP Semiconductors, Oberthur Technologies, RSA, Synaptics, Yubico, and CrucialTec USA. The Alliance is aiming to create a roadmap for biometric sensors, their uses, and policies, with systems functioning like traditional security systems — but linked to the Internet.

That prediction of 500 million connections in less than four years may seem too ambitious, but think about this:

There is a need for biometric sensors.

Biometric sensors are not a fad. There is a set of real security benefits that you get from using them. For one, there is no chance that you could lose your access capability it as you would a key, nor forget it as happens to passwords and codes. It is also very convenient and fast. There is no chance that you would be locked out of your office or home!

Biometrics is also more secure than other methods. Nobody can steal your thumb. (Well, they can, but a cut-off thumb is not usable because biometrics now have sophisticated systems that can detect “living” tissue. A similar principle applies for sensing the eye’s retina pattern.) Nor can they mimic your voice easily. As far as access applications go, biometrics is the best option.

Biometric sensors are improving.

It is no secret that biometric sensors have suffered from inaccuracies in the past. It was common, for instance, to try to unlock your iPhone and fail in the process. But today’s sensors are much more accurate, and chances for a failed fingerprint scan are very slim. Even if you have to scan your fingerprint twice or thrice, it is still a lot faster than having to enter a password or look for a physical key.

Biometric sensors have improved because the Internet of Things has been putting the spotlight on sensors in general. As a result, manufacturers are finding better ways to design and make them. Further, the devices that could use biometric security are also improving. For example, a smartphone could easily have a high resolution camera built into it. It also has a sensitive microphone on board. That means, using only your smartphone, you really do not need to use any other sensor to accurately recognize biometrics.

People are getting to know biometrics and biometric sensors.

The Internet of Things is becoming more and more mainstream, and so are affiliated technologies, such as sensors and wearable devices, and yes, biometric sensors. So people are slowly getting educated when it comes to biometric sensors. What’s more, biometric sensors are not only convenient, fast, and secure, they have also become more and more inexpensive and really fast. This means that we should be seeing more biometric sensors making it into consumer electronics. Apple now has Touch ID, and we are confident that more and more devices will follow through.

In fact, Ericsson predicts that biometric smartphones will be big in 2014. According to the company’s consumer trends report, three out of four people think that biometric smartphones would be mainstream in 2014. The report also found that more than half of smartphone users would want to use biometrics rather than a password to secure their phones, and they also want to use biometrics or fingerprints to authenticate online payments. A total of 48% of them are interested in eye recognition.

Biometric sensors are moving out of corporate users and into the hands of regular consumers.

It used to be that biometric sensors were available only to corporate users who opted to use these devices for increased security. With more and more people getting introduced to biometric sensors, and with these sensors showing up on more and more devices, even ordinary consumers are using them. As the Ericsson study has found out, consumers prefer biometrics over traditional security measures.

The biggest names are backing biometric sensors and biometrics.

Having the big shots back a new technology is a great sign for any new entry to the tech space. The biggest payment, financial, and tech companies that exist today now back biometric sensors, and these companies are working together via the FIDO Alliance to not only come up with a road map on how to use biometric sensors but also how to make the different devices that use these sensors compatible.

All of this is good news to the manufacturers of biometric sensors, the software developers that make these sensors work, and the rest of the biometrics industry. They owe a big thanks to the Internet of Things for paving the way to make their industry grow.

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