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Consumer biometrics make further inroads for mobile web authentication, financial services


passive biometric liveness

Biometric devices for consumer authentication on and offline is the most prevalent theme in the week’s biometrics headlines, whether in the form of smartphone-based health passes, new native capabilities on mobile devices, or fingerprint-enabled payment cards.

Google and Microsoft are expanding their support for mobile biometrics, Idex Biometrics has announced a capital raise, Apple and startup GBT have filed patents on smartphone facial recognition, and online authentication providers Jumio, Onfido, FacePhi and Kabn have announced new customers.

Most read biometrics news this week

Health passports continue to be a hot topic, with Tony Blair weighing in on their inevitability, and considerations of new measures relating to them in the UK, Hawaii, and Malaysia. Blair says the technology is ready, but declines to provide details on how trust will be built with the public.

Secunet biometric gates will be deployed, in part to speed up passenger wait times, at two of the main air and land border checkpoints in Estonia through local integrator AS Alarmtec. Greece is planning its implementation of Alarmed Europe’s EES, with a total budget of over $85 million. Privacy International has published a document detailing the tools used by UK immigration authorities and the companies that provide them, meanwhile.

Biometrics continue to make headways into mainstream personal computers and device-based online environments, with Google bringing Face ID biometrics to the iOS version of its Chrome browser, and Microsoft releasing a new multi-factor authentication password manager with support for biometrics, dubbed Autofill, as an extension for the Edge and Google Chrome browsers.

Governments are facing decisions on their digital ID systems, with a new single sign-on (SSO) system planned for all government services in the UK, governance questions in Australia and the a call for the Netherlands to act on a legal footing and foundational digital ID. Canada’s DIACC has released its annual checkup on public perceptions of digital ID in the country.

The Draft ID Management Bill could help propel South Africa towards a digitally evolved economy, but work remains to line up the country’s ID system with the ten principles the government has laid out for identity management, Law for All Managing Director Jackie Nagtegaal writes for Maverick Citizen. Operationalizing the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act would help, but the Department of Home Affairs needs more funding to carry out the other steps needed, Nagtegaal argues.

The forced innovation of digital identities could lead to passports for those currently blocked from them by financial barriers or a lack of foundational ID, Adil Khan of GSMA’s Mobile for Development Team writes for Turkish state broadcaster TRT World. Khan refers to the rapid changes that have enabled the registration of births with mobile phones in Pakistan and the introduction of authentication via voice biometrics in Kenya as signs of the opportunity for social transformation through joint public and private sector engagement on digital ID.

Enterprise blockchain could be the key to finding a balance between digital identity and user privacy, R3 Head of Venture Development Ivar Wiersma writes in a guest post. By confirming the validity of credentials without actually storing personal information, Wiersma writes, decentralized identity solutions based on blockchain could meet data privacy requirements and protect user control in a sustainable way.

Optimism abounds for publicly traded biometrics companies, as Idex Biometrics’ latest fundraising effort is a private placement worth $27.5 million. Earnings reports from Fingerprint Cards and Nuance show strong positioning, and InterBio was valuated at $52 million in its recent acquisition. Ipsidy wants all its shareholders to vote during its March 22 meeting to carry out the structural changes it needs to make for a planned uplisting.

An Apple patent filing adds dozens of new claims to its original invention of a system to implement its face and fingerprint biometrics in the same i-device, perhaps responding to the challenges of Face ID while masked. Startup GBT Technologies, meanwhile, has filed a patent application for a system for smartphone-based facial recognition that works with or without masks, with a single enrollment.

Mobile biometrics providers have also been busy further down the development pipeline, with TruNarrative launching a cloud portal for face biometric verification for professional services companies and other lower-volume businesses. Jumio’s selfie biometrics are going into production for Bahrain bank, Onfido has lowered onboarding time and cost for a Bulgarian bank, and FacePhi will provide its technology to a leading Latin American microfinance company, and Kabn has signed up a securities broker.

“Touchless” has been the buzzword of the past year in biometrics, but sophisticated solutions for fingerprint scanners that go beyond regular disinfecting have reached the market, Jenetric Co-founder and CEO Roberto Wolfer notes in a guest post. The impact of the pandemic on fingerprinting as a biometric modality remains unclear, and with masks potentially outlasting the COVID pandemic, Wolfer suggests “faceless” could be the buzzword on the year ahead.

Vuzix smart glasses have been integrated with a smart support system for nursing homes developed by KDDI Research in collaboration with a Japanese social welfare organization, with face biometrics and speech synthesis technologies giving staff instant access resident information. The integration is intended to help with a labor shortage in the field.

Synaptics’ pivot to artificial intelligence at the edge from its previous focus on sensors for mobile phones and PCs will involve sensing through non-glass surfaces and visual wake-words, CEO Michael Hurlston tells Venture Beat in an interview. Among the insights contained in the conversation is that the power of AI and the energy efficiency of edge computing are both needed to bring out the IoT’s potential.

A pair of partnerships have been formed to implement facial recognition at the edge. Vsblty and Ability Enterprise have produced a high-resolution camera capable of running multiple Intel algorithms simultaneously for the retail and smart city markets, while CyberLink’s FaceMe Security has been integrated into Network Optix’ video management platform Nx Meta for the same markets, as well as industrial and foodservice operations.

The Line, a 170 kilometer-long smart city planned for Saudi Arabia with no cars, 100 percent renewable energy, and ubiquitous facial recognition is expected to be ready for occupancy by 2030,  ZDNet reports. Billions of dollars are being invested in a city that is intended to one day be home to hundreds of thousands, though attracting residents may be the challenge.

An AnyVision patent describes drones adjusting their position to perform facial recognition matches while airborne, for possible future use in identifying intended delivery recipients. An activist group has published a list of occasions when UK police used drones for surveillance of protests, while drones and facial recognition are both in NATO’s plans, but not necessarily in combination.

North America is one of the largest markets for rugged biometric devices, Laxton Group CEO Lyle Charles Laxton tells Biometric Update in an interview, and opportunities to support elections and national IDs in Africa can also yield hardware development benefits to bring to that market. Laxton also advises that although his firm sells technology for elections across Africa, ballots should remain manual on the continent for the time being.

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