Widespread use of biometrics in consumer electronics projected

December 28, 2012 - 

BiometricUpdate.com editors are extremely optimistic that the biometric industry is posed for incredible growth in 2013.

The Biometrics Research Group estimates that total global industry revenue in 2013 will reach US$9.3 billion.

The research firm predicts that the market for automated fingerprint identification systems and fingerprint biometric technologies will continue to account for the greatest share of this global biometrics market.

Biometrics Research Group also maintains that the main driver for growth in 2013 will also continue to be government spending on security.

In a previous research note, the research firm conservatively estimated that the U.S. government is currently spending at least US$450 million per annum on pure biometric research.

The U.S. government also continues to spend a large proportion of its respective defense, homeland security and law enforcement budgets on biometric applications.  Such spending, which includes the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) allocating US$1 billion to upgrade its existing criminal databases, will bolster predictable revenue sources for biometric product and service vendors.

Increasingly, however, we predict that a new, source of revenue within the industry might emerge in 2012 that will emanate around the integration of biometric technologies into consumer electronic applications.

One of the most dominant stories within the sector over the past year revolved around Apple’s movement to integrate fingerprint readers into its wildly popular line of mobile smartphones and computer tablets.

BiometricUpdate.com editors extensively covered Apple’s $356 million acquisition of AuthenTec and described the deal as the most talked about development in the industry in 2012.

Through the acquisition, Apple will obtain many of the foundational technology patents within the fingerprint biometrics field, along with a broad patent portfolio consisting of 200 issued and filed patents in the United States. Previously, Apple paid US$20 million to use AuthenTec’s patented area fingerprint sensors and modules.

BiometricUpdate.com also reported on how Apple also independently patented the use of a specific biometric fingerprint sensor that is concealed behind a closed window on an iPhone.

Upon the iPhone’s activation in a locked state, a lock screen may be displayed requesting a user to slide a finger across the display to unlock the device. The electronic device may request user authentication to access the handheld device. The device could then display an instruction screen requesting that a user provide biometric data via their fingerprint which will be read by the fingerprint sensor for authentication.

The patent, in effect, allows Apple to use biometrics in order to unlock a mobile device and to complete e-commerce transactions online with secure authentication   According to the patent filing, the technology can be applied to a series of Apple mobile devices, including the iPad, iPod and Nano.  The patent also describes the fingerprint sensor as a window that can transition from transparent to opaque configurations, by using a polymer dispersed liquid crystal (PDLC) display.

BiometricUpdate.com also reported that Apple had filed a new facial recognition patent. Apple’s new facial recognition system analyzes the characteristics of an image’s subject and uses this data to create a “faceprint,” to match with other photos to establish a person’s identity. The patent also includes the ability to group together multiple faceprints using metadata, along with a reliability score. This can supposedly help to identify faces as they age, as well as in the case of famous people, provide a visual retrospective.

With the world’s largest computer and consumer electronic vendor moving towards the wide-scale use of biometrics, BiometricUpdate.com editors predict that the rest of the sector will follow suit.  We project a wide range of biometric firms will start catering their technological offerings to consumer electronic manufacturers in 2013, and that manufacturers will examine ways to integrate the new technologies into their own offerings.

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About Rawlson King

Rawlson O’Neil King is a contributing editor at BiometricUpdate.com and is an experienced communications professional, management consultant, trade journalist and author who recently published a book about control and electronic networks and who has written numerous articles in trade publications and academic journals about smart home and building technologies. Follow him @rawlsonking2.