What is next for biometrics?

February 2008 Access Control & Identity Management

Exploring the future landscape of the biometric market.

Over the last several years, biometric technology has shown its real potential in safeguarding lives, information and properties. Today, it is commonly being used as an access control system to complement (or replace) the conventional password- and card-based systems.

As the technology matures and advances, it will become more pervasive and start to be used on a massive scale, such as border security. There will be more and more variation of applications. In the coming years, we will witness the following trends that will fuel the evolution of biometric technology.

Lower cost to spur greater uptake

With the advancement of biometrics technology and the decreasing cost, there will be a spike in uptake. These password-replacement technologies are gaining more and more acceptance among individuals and organisations.

According to the latest technical market research report 'The Global Biometrics Market' by BCC Research (2007), the global biometrics market was worth nearly US$2-billion in 2006 and is expected to increase to US$7,1-billion by 2012; a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21,3% over the next five years.

Expanding and extending capabilities

Biometrics technology has come a long way. Over the past three decades, the technology has moved from single method, namely fingerprinting, to multiple methods, namely facial, hand, iris and DNA, as well as keystroke and voice. The technologies have evolved to become more accurate with faster verification and identification.

According to BCC Research (2007), the CAGR for fingerprint biometrics between 2007 and 2012 is 16,3%, whereas face recognition is much higher at 23,8%. However, fingerprint remains the main market driver in the biometrics market with revenue projected to reach US$2,7- billion by 2012 compared to the second largest market segment, face recognition at US$1,3-billion by 2012.

New breeds, new variants

Biometrics is getting smarter and better. In coming years, we will witness the emergence cutting-edge biometrics, namely 3D infrared facial recognition access control, realtime facial recognition passive surveillance, and visitor management authentication systems.

New and creative innovations emerge at an increasing speed in the marketplace. For example, A4Vision, a US-based company, uses specialised algorithms to transform 2D camera image into 3D representation of a registered face to significantly enhance the capabilities of biometric systems. This and numerous other innovations are brewing in research labs across the globe.

Upscaling biometrics

The eagerness of governments to adopt biometrics has created huge demand for the technology. Biometrics was first introduced to protect properties and lives. In the near future, biometrics will be implemented on large-scale settings. The introduction of a biometric passport is a small step in this direction. The UK implemented this type of passport in February 2006.

For more information contact RCG Systems SA, +27 (0)11 807 0707, mikec@rcgsystemssa.co.za, www.rcg.tv

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