Year in Review 2017: Most Exciting Modalities, Part 2

In December of 2017 FindBiometrics surveyed over 200 members of its informed audience – including executives from the world’s leading biometrics companies – on topics relating to the identity technology industry over the past 12 months. The results comprise the 15th Annual FindBiometrics Year in Review.

Year in Review 2017: Most Exciting Modalities, Part 2Last week, as we started our Year in Review 2017 coverage, we examined the most exciting biometric modality of the year as voted by our survey respondents: facial recognition. The results were a dynamic and pointed change from previous years, resulting from major consumer device innovation and unprecedented levels of deployment, familiarity, and integration.

Today, we are going to look at the second most popular modality (or should I say modalities) of 2017: the state the art, and the industry events that made it remarkable. For posterity, here is the question we asked out Year in Review respondents:

In Your Opinion What Was The Most Exciting Biometric Modality in 2017?

Multimodality Enhances User Experience

Multimodality was voted the second-most exciting modality of 2017 after sharing the top spot with fingerprints in 2016. With 19.2 percent of the vote, multimodality remains prominently popular and for obvious reasons: different biometrics technologies continue to become increasingly available, allowing for flexibility and user experience to drive adoption.

While facial recognition did take the top spot partially thanks to its mono-modal deployment on the iPhone X, one of the chief criticisms of Face ID was that it shipped with no alternative option or potential scalability. Without Touch ID, the opportunity for Apple users to bolster security with a second biometric factor evaporated along with their opportunity to choose what option they liked best for different applications (for instance: some might prefer paying with fingerprints, but unlocking their handset with face).

Meanwhile, Apple’s competitors continued to champion the fingerprint while also deploying contactless biometric options. Samsung notably continued to release mobile devices with Princeton Identity’s iris biometrics, in addition to the fingerprint sensor mounted on the rear of its new phones. LG launched handsets with Sensory’s face and voice authentication bolstering its fingerprint sensors, too. And while many mobile OEMs pivoted in the latter half of 2017 to include facial recognition on smartphones, only Apple decided to narrow down the authentication options to one.

Of course, mobile devices are only a small part of the multimodal equation. In 2017, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) biometric solutions became increasingly prominent in the financial and enterprise verticals. Last year saw important certifications, integrations and deployments concerning cloud-based biometrics services aimed at providing banks, financial service providers, and businesses of all sizes biometrics as they needed them, at the scale they needed them, and perfectly suited for the task for which they were needed. Furthermore, as innovation in available biometric modalities increases the pantheon of authentication options with new and novel security methods, the future-proof nature of software solutions like ImageWare’s GoVerifyID – which added palm biometric support in December – or Daon’s IdentityX – which is the biometric engine powering Visa’s next generation identity solution – are proving their value as adaptable, scalable, and versatile solutions.

Finally, perhaps the most exciting part of multimodality is how much it was at the heart of 2017’s truly transformative industry activity. Major acquisitions, mergers, and partnerships put a strong emphasis on catering to a multimodal focus going into 2018. In November, BioCatch partnered with Samsung SDS to bring its behavioral biometrics to the latter’s FIDO Certified NexSign authentication solution, exemplifying that on-device and server-based biometrics can support each other to create impressive multimodal security propositions. Perhaps most notably, Fingerprint Cards – the eponymous and prolific fingerprint sensor manufacturer – finalized its acquisition of Delta ID, officially making the Swedish company a provider of multimodal solutions on its quest to become what CEO Christian Fredrikson referred to in an interview with FindBiometrics as “a leading biometric company.”

Related article:

INTERVIEW: Christian Fredrikson, President and CEO, Fingerprint Cards

For years, there has been a strong trend toward multimodality in the markets served by biometrics. The scalability and flexibility offered by the technology enhances security and convenience respectively, making multimodal a natural success in the biometrics industry at large. Moving forward into 2018 we can expect to see more success for multimodal solutions, as biometrics continue to proliferate in general and user experience demands versatile strong authentication.


Join us later this week as we look back on the news and events that defined the third most exciting modality of 2017. Stay posted to FindBiometrics throughout January as we continue to analyze the 15th Annual Year in Review survey results.

The 15th Annual FindBiometrics Year in Review is brought to you by Leidos.

January 15, 2018 – by Peter B. Counter