Next round of smartphones to incorporate biometrics

March 6, 2013 - 

Biometrics Research Group, Inc. expects that biometrics will become integrated within a wide number of mobile devices in the near future. Integration will be driven by smartphone and tablet manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung Electronics, which we expect will add both fingerprint and gesture recognition functionality to their mobile devices within the next year.

In January, at the Consumer Electronics Show, a Samsung Android phone was demonstrated which included a fingerprint sensor underneath its screen. Developed by Validity, a firm that creates biometric authentication solutions for mobile devices, the sensor allowed a user to log into an Android-based smartphone with a single swipe of a finger. Using a fingerprint authentication system entitled “Natural Login”, Validity will not only enable security access to mobile devices, but will also allow validation of e-commerce transactions.

As extensively reported in BiometricUpdate.com, Apple is also undertaking incorporation of biometric technologies into its devices. Apple entered into an agreement last year to purchase AuthenTec for about $356 million. AuthenTec specializes in developing strong fingerprint-based security, ideal for mobile devices. With the acquisition, Apple will obtain many of the foundational technology patents for fingerprint biometrics, 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.

After the acquisition, AuthenTec announced that it would stop selling fingerprint technology to Apple’s competitors, which include Samsung, HP, Dell, Lenovo and Fujitsu. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office also granted Apple a patent for biometric-sensor handheld devices that recognize a user by the image of their hand. Further, Apple patented the use of a biometric fingerprint sensor that is concealed under the iPhone’s screen display.

With Apple facing increasing pressure from shareholders nervous about the company’s sliding stock price, growing cash surplus and mounting competition, it is expected that the company will introduce a new generation of mobile products that will incorporate fingerprint recognition. BiometricUpdate.com reported late last month that a prominent industry analyst expects a fingerprint scanner to be embedded in the next release of the Apple iPhone. The introduction of such products will increase consumer demand for the products, along with creating new e-commerce opportunities.

We estimate that U.S. consumers will use smartphones and tablet computers to make retail purchases of approximately US$35 billion this year, compared with US$20 billion in 2012. If trend continues, the majority of online sales will be conducted on Apple rather than on Android mobile devices. As a consequence, we expect that Apple will integrate fingerprint authentication into “Apple ID” to supplement the written password that provides access to all Apple cloud-based services, including iTunes purchases.

The Biometric Research Group eventually expects that biometric identifiers such as fingerprints will eventually supplant written Apple ID passwords. By 2015, it might even become possible to purchase new Apple devices at its retail store using your thumbprint impression. The research firm also expects that biometric technologies will also be integrated to “phablets”, or niche mobile smartphone/tablet hybrids, which are extremely popular in Asia.

Biometrics Research Group provides forward-looking and systematic data about the global biometric market, allowing industry stakeholders to calculate political, economic and investment risk.

Read more Biometric Research Notes.

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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.