Reality, Meet Biometrics – findBIOMETRICS Year in Review Part 1

YIR2013FeatureImageSquareJanuary 16, 2014 – by findBIOMETRICS Staff

Reality, meet biometrics.

The whirlwind that was 2013 saw strong authentication hitting an unprecedented level of public popularity, but at what point did biometrics become so real?

As part of our 11th annual industry survey, we asked a wide range of experts int he identity management community the following question:

In your opinion, what three newsworthy events or milestones best encapsulate what 2013 will be remembered for when it comes to biometrics and authentication?

Here is what they said (ranking the events from 1-3):

YIR 2013 Q1 Answer Chart

Click the chart to download the full Year in Review PDF and read the answers given under the “Other” category.

There is no big surprise here: all but 10 of the 64 experts polled put the inclusion of a fingerprint sensor on the newest iPhone model in their top three, and well over half of those who did, chose it as the most defining news event of the year in biometrics.

In 2012, findBIOMETRICS saw a clear trend emerging in biometrics, and that was MOBILITY. Mobility, mobility and GROWTH. In September when Touch ID was announced as a security feature on the iPhone 5S, it proved that, if nothing else, the public was willing to put biometrics in their pockets. Even taking into account the subsequent spoofing, sensationalist press and inevitable demystification of the sapphire sensor, there can be no denying the mainstream attention Apple brought to mobile biometrics in the second half of 2013. Finally, biometrics became real everyday technology for iPhone users.

Of course, nothing says reality like a rush to set some ground rules! Firmly in second place for the year in strong authentication news was the formation of standards organizations. The FIDO Alliance, The Natural Security Alliance and collaborative initiatives like those demonstrated by Lockheed Martin and Tabula Rasa all made the news in 2013 as they each in their own way encouraged a united effort in bringing the necessary protocols to the changing authentication markets. This is a response to the market conditions and a natural need arising from increasing demands of everyday security, but it is also important to recognize the roles these organizations play in driving the post-password technology forward.

About as frequently as we saw organizations spring up in 2013, we also reported on some ground-shaking acquisitions. Apple purchased PrimeSense, DigitalPersona bought IdentityStream and – in a breaking news moment at Money 2020 – findBIOMETRICS President Peter O’Neill got the scoop on the acquisition of Validity by Synaptics. Can you see all of this painting a dynamic picture of the identity industry moving forward into 2014? We certainly can.

With those three major interests of the year taking almost the entirety of the first place votes, what we are left with is enthusiasm about the technological innovations to come. Mobility changed the entire landscape of biometrics, it’s true, but the year was not without exciting advances in border control, national ID and every modality that findBIOMETRICS reports on.

FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) going live with National Palm Print System and enhanced Latents program gets mention here too. This comprises the first national palm print system in the U.S., enhanced latent print services, and rollout of the RISC mobile ID capability.

Additionally, due to the massive activity in strong authentication throughout the entire year, many non-survey suggestions were made. The NSA surveillance leaks were mentioned, as were several program-specific praises from around the world and across the verticals. This is all key too… an active and healthy industry that is ready to start a dialogue when presented with choices.

With the exception of the news in biometric videogames (which received only two votes overall) it appears from the data collected here that 2013 was all about the move of biometrics to the mainstream, preparing for what that means in regards to standards and industry structure, and the constant refining of the technologies that allow for all of this to happen. This is the most real it’s been in the 11 years findBIOMETRICS has reviewed.

Stay tuned to findBIOMETRICS for the duration of January as we break down the year that biometrics became real with daily updates on company specific reactions to 2013 and more industry analysis.