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The Future of … The Ubiquity of Biometrics

The Future of … The Ubiquity of Biometrics

Biometric recognition is no longer cutting edge but is rather becoming the norm. Nearly half of smartphone owners in the U.S. use at least one biometric authentication method for unlocking, authorizing or validating applications or processes; penetration is even higher with individuals who use their phone for online banking (63 percent) or transferring money (67 percent).1

What is Biometric Recognition?

The simple way to think about biometrics is that today’s authentication usually revolves around what you know (user name and password or PIN), while biometrics revolves around a physiological trait that is unique to each individual. There are many forms of biometric measures, chief among them being:

  • DNA matching
  • Ear shape and size
  • Facial recognition
  • Fingerprints
  • Retinal scan and iris recognition
  • Voice recognition

Each method has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and consequently expect that their future use will hinge on ease, cost and the demands of a particular tool or process.

Some Possible Future Uses

  • National ID—A national identification system hints of Orwellian nightmare, but it could serve as the basis for ensuring accurate voter identification, employment verification and access to social programs.
  • Banking—Digital financial transactions require the highest levels of security and authentication. Biometric recognition is already well-established in Internet banking and financial transfers, but expect that to grow further.
  • Health care—Today, access to medical records is quite limited, leaving doctors and hospitals in the dark about a patient’s medical history. There may come a day in which an individual’s health records will be stored on the cloud and accessed by some form of biometric authentication of the patient, such as a retinal scan or by DNA.
  • Airport Security and Border Control—Facial recognition is already being employed in domestic airports, but expect that it will find further use to speed up check-in and security processes, as well as identifying criminals attempting to enter the country.
  • Cashless Shopping—A first chapter in cashless shopping is already underway. The ultimate destination will be to use an array of cameras and sensors to identify items a shopper places in his or her cart, like the Amazon Go stores, and facial recognition to process the charge for purchased items, rather than an app like Amazon Go.
  • Improve Brick and Mortar Stores—In a scene from “Minority Report,” Tom Cruise’s character is walking through a retail store that delivers him personalized product pitches, a capability powered by facial recognition and accumulated data. The brick and mortar store may see a renaissance as it develops capabilities making itself more relevant to the shopper.

A word of caution—flaws have already been identified by researchers who have discovered that fingerprints and 3D printed heads can fool today’s biometric recognition systems. The cat-and-mouse game continues.




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