Year in Review 2017: Introduction From John Mears, Vice President and Tech Fellow, Leidos

by John Mears, Vice President & Tech Fellow, Leidos

The biometrics industry had a notable 2017. With the proliferation of consumer-facing biometrics technology and increasing numbers of deployments in the vertical markets, discourse has matured over the past twelve months when it comes to identity technology and its applications. Spurred by successful deployments, increased use in consumer devices, and an expanding breadth of applications, the conversation about biometric technology has shifted its focus from revolution to evolution.

This is the 15th Annual FindBiometrics Year in Review, and the results show optimism. Not only does the survey data show a strong trust in biometric technology as a physical access and national security solution, but the majority of survey respondents indicated they expect biometrics to replace passwords by 2022 or earlier. Despite this optimism and trust, however, the majority believe there are still major advances to be made in consumer biometrics.

Indeed, in the Year in Review results for 2017, the consistent theme is action—action spurring change; action stoking excitement; action that still needs to be taken for our industry to thrive. Apple’s decision to replace Touch ID with Face ID on the iPhone X made facial recognition the most popular modality of the year, dethroning fingerprint recognition as the top spot incumbent. Trials of biometric screening at airports across the United States and beyond showed how next-generation identity management can effectively be used at ports of entry/exit and how it can reduce the “friction” of modern travel. And time and time again, the industry saw the need for education and the opportunity to act in pursuit of a more secure and convenient future.

The vast majority of survey respondents agree that education is crucial for the biometrics industry moving forward. This is not a surprise. Vendors, thought leaders, and consortia are constantly pointing to education as the “silver bullet” to address issues of public perception, such as: confusion between biometric verification and biometric identification, misunderstandings about the threat of spoofing attacks, and the persistent myth that biometrics are an inaccessible, costly option in the realms of law enforcement and border control.

Looking ahead, education is the big opportunity for biometrics in 2018. Conversations on privacy, public safety, network security, fraud, and newly maturing technologies – like deep neural networks, blockchain, behavioral biometrics, and 5G connectivity – are all intersecting with identity. Biometrics are a part of all of these discussions. If we can work to ensure identity technology is properly understood, with the help of organizations like International Biometrics + Identity Association (IBIA) and FindBiometrics, then we are better positioned to grow our industry to its full potential.

I hope you will join me, FindBiometrics, and a panel of high-profile experts on January 24, for a live webinar presentation of the survey results, as we put the data in context and discuss the future of biometrics.

View The Survey Results For the 15th Annual FindBiometrics Year in Review Brought to you by Leidos


John Mears is a Vice President and Tech Fellow at Leidos specializing in biometrics, identity management, and forensics. He uses technology to improve citizen services, homeland security, law enforcement, defense, and intelligence operations.