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Biometrics analyst says outbreak marks death of most of touch-based fingerprint reader market



The market for low-end single fingerprint biometric sensors and readers outside of smartphones has just fallen off a cliff, according to Acuity Market Intelligence Principle Analyst and Chief Strategist Maxine Most.

In a blog post, Most says that this market, which has been rapidly expanding to more than two million readers annually, mostly in India and China, will be essentially killed off. Public fingerprinting at Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMVs), ATMs, office buildings, airports and police stations, which was largely halted in response to the coronavirus pandemic even before shelter in place orders were given, will be rapidly phased out, Most suggests.

Strict disinfecting protocols including the adoption of antimicrobial materials will likely be introduced, particularly for the four-print readers often used in national ID, border control, law enforcement, and other sophisticated identity applications. Over the next two to three years, however, those biometric scanners will be replaced by touchless systems that may or may not include fingerprints, according to the post.

Noting that Acuity has been predicting the widespread implementation of AFIS-quality, FBI-compliant fingerprint systems in smartphones since the iPhone 5S was introduced in 2013, Most writes that smartphone fingerprint sensors will be more sophisticated in the future.

With decreasing comfort using public scanners and improving quality in the biometrics embedded in personal devices, use cases will shift to touchless systems or digital identity credentials and biometric authentication based on personal devices.

Facial recognition will adoption will accelerate rapidly, Most predicts, and iris recognition will break free of recent struggles with a large increase in adoption, starting in healthcare environments which limit the use of other modalities.

Facial recognition companies seeking to differentiate themselves with a unique value proposition are not likely to find the strategy effective, according to a recent white paper from Acuity.

“As always, black swans create winners and losers,” Most notes. “The Coronavirus black swan biometric winners will be touchless fingerprint and smartphone-based FBI compliant capture solutions, as well as face and iris recognition for use in public and commercial environments.”

Ultimately, she forecasts, the outbreak sounds the “death knell” for touch-based fingerprint readers.

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