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The top 10 most-read stories on BiometricUpdate.com in 2013


2013 was a pretty big year for biometrics. If not just for the products that launched, this year has certainly been the one in which the term “biometrics” entered the public consciousness.

We’ve gone back to look at the stories that captured the greatest attention of the BiometricUpdate.com community and represented the most-read articles on our site this past year.

Here are the top 10 most read articles on BiometricUpdate.com in 2013.

1. Homeland Security to test BOSS facial recognition at junior hockey game

Certainly one of the more controversial stories of the year, our coverage of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s tests for its facial recognition Biometric Optical Surveillance System (BOSS) at a junior hockey game caught the attention of the Drudge Report and was shared all over the web. 

With assistance from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, DHS tested the system at a Western Hockey League game in Washington state. The test was set to determine whether the system could distinguish the faces of 20 volunteers out of a crowd of nearly 6,000 hockey fans.

2. Digital Magazine: Law Enforcement and Biometrics

In September, BiometricUpdate.com published its first digital magazine focused on biometrics. This particular issue included original research from the Biometrics Research Group on biometrics in law enforcement, including original research on usage, purchasing and predictions for the future. This issue also included an exclusive interview with the FBI on its Next-Generation Identification program, and another on industry standardization with the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

3. NeoFace identifies Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in MSU marathon bombing simulation study

One of the biggest blows to the biometrics industry in 2013 was certainly when news broke that facial recognition did not help the FBI to identify Tamerlan and Dzokhar Tsarnaev as suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. There continues to be a lot of conversation about the investigation as well as about the only Tsarnaev brother left alive, Dzhokhar.

In June, NEC published a report based on a study conducted by Michigan State University that simulated post-bombing forensic work, which found that with NEC’s NeoFace facial recognition software, the Tsarnaevs could in fact be identified. 

4. Next round of smartphones to incorporate biometrics

In a research note from early in the year – months before Apple’s iPhone 5S launch – Rawlson King estimated not only that the next round of smartphones would incorporate biometrics, but that Apple would integrate fingerprint recognition capabilities for iTunes purchases. In September, Apple launched the iPhone 5S with a fingerprint scanner, and almost each month, a new smartphone with biometric functionality is launched.

5. Precise Biometrics: Q&A with Jeff Scott, VP of Sales, North America

Precise Biometrics has been a large part of the biometrics conversation this past year, in particular for its Tactivo smartphone case, which integrates a fingerprint and smart card scanner. BiometricUpdate.com chatted with Jeff Scott, the VP of North American sales for the company about the Tactivo reader, as well as the company’s trajectory and upcoming projects.

6. Finger-pointing begins over biometric device failures in Kenyan election

There have been many African elections in the past year and a half that have made use of biometric technology for voter registration and vote-counting and elections in Kenya and Ghana were of particular interest. Following reports of malfunctioning biometric verification machines and accusations from every angle, The South African company that provided Kenya’s electoral commission with the biometric devices came out to say that it couldn’t be blamed for a failure by election officers to use the gadgets properly.

7. Rumors suggest Samsung could be eyeing iris recognition for GS5

The biometrics community has had a few false starts with Samsung gadgets in the past year. Rumors have popped up to suggest that fingerprint sensors might be included in Galaxy devices, there was an unverified report that suggested Samsung couldn’t get fingerprint technology to worked and there was even a fake press release which alleged Samsung acquired Fingerprint Cards. Nevertheless, the idea that Samsung may end up using some sort of iris or eye-scanning technology in an upcoming Galaxy device has proven to have some staying power.

8. Will the next iPhone feature biometric fingerprint technology? Signs point to yes

Before Apple launched its iPhone 5S with a fingerprint sensor, speculation was ripe that the company would do so. Leading the credible rumor brigade was Ming-Chi Kuo from KGI Securities, who predicted (correctly) that the new device would include a fingerprint sensor. In addition to Kuo’s predictions Apple also filed for patent applications pointing at a biometric inclusion, as well as AuthenTec’s restricted business following its acquisition by Apple.

9. U.S. government spending on big data to grow exponentially

In another research note, the Biometrics Research Group estimated that federal agencies spent approximately US$5 billion on Big Data resources in the 2012 fiscal year. The group also estimated that annual spending will grow to US$6 billion in 2014 and then to US$8 billion by 2017 at a compound annual growth rate of 10 percent.  The majority of this spending will be directed through the military apparatus of the U.S. government.

10. Digital Magazine – Biometrics and Homeland Security

Homeland security is a major aspect of government spending on biometrics, and BiometricUpdate.com’s most recent digital magazine focuses on exactly that, including the breakdown of government departments and objectives using biometrics. The magazine analyzes spending, data-sharing and trusted traveller programs.

Times of London special insert on biometrics for Raconteur Media

Also this year, BiometricUpdate.com contributed articles to a special supplement in the Times of London for Raconteur Media.

Adam Vrankulj authored “Blame Bad Policy Not The Technology” and discussed how the use of biometrics in the public sector is on the rise, despite concern over infringement of privacy and civil liberties. This article was picked up by the Huffington Post and continues to accumulate page views.

Rawlson King, contributing editor at BiometricUpdate.com, authored “Make Way For Knobbly Kneed ID… Or Who’s This Ear?,” an article about unlikely measures of identity such as knees and ears, and how they could soon rival fingerprints as personal identification.

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