Biometric technology of the future, today

January 22, 2013 - 

“The future is in the palm of your hand.” It’s a saying we’ve all heard before. Today, it is truer than ever thanks to the proliferation of biometric technology. Moreover, the future is not only in the palm of your hand, but also in the details of your iris, fingertips and facial structure.

What does this biometric innovation mean for us? Thanks to real-time biometric identification, I imagine we’ll soon be able to quickly and securely get cash from an ATM without having to remember a personal identification number (PIN), walk quickly through airport security without waiting in a long line, and keep our homes and workplaces secure without ID cards. Access cards and PINs are becoming antiquated technologies as secure identification and access control based on biometrics become realities of daily life in the digital age. According to MarketsandMarkets’ Global Biometrics Technology Market (2010-2015) report, the global biometrics technology market is growing at a compound annual growth rate of about 21.6 percent, with the iris, vein and face markets leading the way.

While biometrics systems range in their performance, power consumption and peripheral integration, the basic architectures of all systems is similar because they must perform many of the same functions. Biometrics systems must typically manage sensing, feature extraction, template matching and decision output processes. Because of the need to process computationally intensive functions in real time, digital signal processing is often at the core (pun intended!) of biometric identification and access control systems. Sophisticated algorithms employing functions such as segmentation, grey stretch, block direction and Gabor filtering place high demands on the systems’ processing capabilities. Digital signal processors (DSPs) can handle these functions with extremely low latency and enable the system to compare against thousands of stored user identities in less than a second. DSPs are also easily programmable, which allows OEMs to customize, differentiate and update their systems as new algorithms become available.

From the TMS320C5515 ultra-low-power DSP to the power-efficient TMS320C6748 DSP, Texas Instruments (TI) has a variety of DSPs ideal for biometric applications. TI also offers select DSPs with security features to protect proprietary algorithms and confidential user data. Members of the TI Design Network also offer software and tools for these applications. For example, IriTech, Inc. offers the IriShield™ iris recognition module—powered by TI’s C6748 DSP—which can be quickly and easily integrated into existing products to add high-performance biometric identification capabilities. For more information about TI’s offerings for biometric identification and access control systems, check out our white paper and website.

My team at TI is eager to see what new biometrics applications will develop in the future as well as how digital signal processing technology will continue to transform these systems. We’re already seeing biometric scanners on smartphones and laptops as well as at our local malls and gyms, but with the increasing sophistication and availability of the technology, biometrics systems will make our lives more convenient in unexpected ways. Leave a note and let us know about new places you’re seeing biometrics systems and where you’d like to see them in the future.

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About Millind Borkar

Milind Borkar, Ph.D., is a part of the marketing team for the Singlecore DSP product line at Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI). He is responsible for product management for singlecore DSPs; defining and bringing to market new processors, evaluation modules, development kits and reference designs; business development for emerging end equipments; and providing support to regional business development managers and sales teams.