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Biometric security trends: A Q&A with Princeton Identity CEO Mark Clifton


Princeton Identity has roots extending back into some of the companies that pioneered identity management, most recently SRI Identity. It launched as an independent venture in the second half of 2016, and has quickly established itself as a leader in the biometrics market with the inclusion of its iris recognition technology in the Samsung Galaxy Note8, and the release of its multi-modal access control solution, the IOM Access200, earlier this year.

The company has also continued to develop its leadership team in 2017, with a new addition to its advisory board, and a new VP of sales and marketing.

Princeton Identity Chief Executive Officer Mark Clifton recently joined Biometric Update for an exclusive email interview to look ahead to 2018 and discuss trends in biometric security, the rising popularity of iris recognition, and improving travel experiences.

How is the biometric security industry evolving?

Mark Clifton: We’re starting to see some maturity in the industry. In the past, biometrics was a really cool technology but just a few early adopters bought into it. Now, biometrics is starting to catch the attention of some of the top 10 global companies for control access applications. When you’re starting to see that sort of adoption happening with top global influencers, you’ll start to see a more widespread application. Companies want to do this for security purposes, but also to make it easier for employees. There is also the recurring cost associated with RFID cards and badges which can be expensive. They are looking to reduce costs but add security and convenience.

What types of industries are investing heavily in biometric security in 2018?

We’re starting to see a lot of adoption in the financial industries—not just for access to data centers, but in use cases for consumers. Banks are really looking at this to try to reduce the friction for customers. Right now, it’s very challenging to remember passwords. They often need to be updated, as many passwords require numerous letters, numbers and special characters. Iris recognition technology can address that pain point by eliminating the need for passwords. We’re starting to see more interest in the healthcare industry and automotive industry as well. It’s hard to say how fast this will go, but it’s starting to move.

Does the integration of Princeton Identity’s iris recognition technology in the Samsung Galaxy S8 change consumer perception of iris authentication technology? What does it mean for your company?

Samsung’s adoption of iris recognition removes the fear factor that some have had with regard to iris recognition. It provides the consumer an option that is easy and secure. Samsung went out of their way to ensure that the iris templates are secure on one’s phone. It definitely will enhance the adoption of iris as a biometric with consumers. Part of the reason that iris is not more broadly adopted has been ease of use and cost. Both of these obstacles are overcome now with the Samsung implementation. In the B2B world, if you can get authentication that has orders of magnitude higher security, is easy to use and is comparable in cost to other biometrics, why wouldn’t you choose it? Part of Princeton Identity’s goal is to use the Samsung implementation to educate the market and enhance awareness of iris recognition as a very good option for authenticating individuals. Note that Princeton Identity has solutions that are fast and easy to use for access control, for borders, and on the move systems where high throughput is required. These solutions can be multi-modal (iris, face, and fingerprint) and multi-factor (RFID, PIN) to offer complete authentication capabilities depending on what the customer is requiring.

Which of the five different markets Princeton Identity works in (physical security, airports and borders, healthcare, financial/banking and government) are furthest along with biometrics adoption?

In order of adoption from my perspective number one is physical security, second is international airports and borders, with government wrapped in for border control, and interestingly, the U.S. is lagging the rest of the world here. Number three is fintech, and four is healthcare, which is probably still two to three years out.

How is biometric technology paving the way for a more streamlined travel experience?

Imagine when you walk into an airport; instead of collecting a paper ticket, you show a piece of ID and a biometric. From that point forward, you never have to have another credential. In addition, if you’re in duty-free store, you can pay with the same biometrics. This is the vision of several international airports that are currently deploying some form of biometrics. Think of how convenient it would be for passengers to move quickly and seamlessly in a high through-put fashion, stemming from the ability to have their credentials captured as they’re walking through a portal. We see that as a big area of growth. With more people traveling, airports will need to secure more people. There is also an increased need for security with the uptick in terrorism. So, security and convenience comes together. Faster, more secure processing of passengers leads to more profit for the airports. Biometrics is the best way to solve both of these problems.

How can iris technology expedite travel? How fast is it?

Princeton Identity has systems deployed today that can process 20 people per minute. It is extremely quick and easy—all you have to do is have your eyes open and move forward. It is not a difficult process. This is what Princeton Identity’s forte is: to make it easy to use and seamless for the consumer. Some airports in the world are using fingerprints. However, people who do a lot of work with their hands have trouble with this. There are also concerns over the transmission of germs.

Fingerprints sometimes get worn off so there are a lot of false rejects (in which the fingerprint is not recognized). With iris technology, the percentage of false rejects and accepts is extremely small. If we can make it easy to implement, we can truly have convenient security.

What can we look forward to seeing in future holiday travel seasons?

More people are traveling. The need to move people through ports of entry is only going to increase. The faster and more securely you can do that will be a win. We can’t improve our infrastructure fast enough. It will be a real bottleneck if we can’t improve the process and still have security. The travel industry needs to address the through-put.

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