The Biometric Shift Sparking a New Way of Life


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If you’ve been following biometrics over the years you have seen the industry grow by leaps and bounds. Technological advances and platform changes have been driving forward to meet the rigorous demands of operational environments.

But there has recently been a shift in use that has morphed the industry from a niche technology to something much more mainstream. In fact, Google introduced a new capability last week that further proves we are moving into a new age of biometric prevalence.

For years, biometrics were seen as critical tools for law enforcement purposes. Governments used them to identify bad guys on watch lists or to prevent imposters from accessing secure areas. Police used them to book suspects and to keep track of criminals in the system. Even with the occasional commercial use of biometrics, such as hand geometry timekeeping applications or biometric access to your local gym, security overwhelmingly remained the driving force.

This all changed when Apple and others started to introduce biometrics to the Average Joe through the device we all carry in our hand - the cell phone.

Nearly everyone has a cell phone constantly at the ready. We are obsessed with interacting with our phones and they’ve become a major part of our daily lives. With the introduction of fingerprint biometrics into our standard operating procedure, biometrics started to shift into a new role. The tipping point had arrived and convenience was suddenly taking over.

No longer were biometrics seen as unnecessarily intrusive or as a tool of an authoritarian Big Brother. They were now helping you easily perform a mundane daily task while still providing the added layer of security as a bonus. In effect, biometrics were no longer something to be feared.

Last week Google introduced functionality that further moves biometrics into the mainstream. Their voice-powered speaker, Google Home, was updated to recognize up to 6 different voices interacting with the device using voice recognition technology and Google’s neural network.

Those of us in the biometrics industry have been clamoring for this capability as voice-powered devices such as the Google Home and the Amazon Echo have gained popularity.

This is just one more instance where biometrics are starting to serve a complementary role in our daily existence. Convenience is beginning to override years of fear or ignorance related to biometric technology and security is no longer the sole influencer.

From the new iris camera in your rearview mirror to the silly SnapChat filters you play with every day, biometrics are becoming part of your daily life.

The possibilities of what’s next for mainstream biometrics are limitless. Imagine your facial image driving how you interact with your smart home or your iris being used for authentication in an Augmented Reality (AR) or Virtual Reality (VR) experience.

While security will always remain a valued byproduct of biometric technology, the shift to convenience is what has the technology being adopted by the masses and forging a new way of life.

Published 24 Apr 2017

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Jeff D Stephens on Twitter