Contactless biometrics are expected to see continued growth in the access control market during the coming year, thanks in part to more accurate and advanced technology. Similar to how analytics was expected to be the “it” trend for over a decade, predicted explosive growth in biometrics has also remained “just around the corner.” Today, however, significant advances in technology have lowered the cost and improved the performance of virtually all biometric modalities, making adoption easier.
The global biometrics-system market is expected to reach US$41.8 billion by 2023, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20 percent, according to a report by Markets and Markets.
“Combined with a general shift in user acceptance due to the application of biometrics on smartphones for logical access control and electronic payments, these advances will fuel continued deployment of biometric solutions,” said Vince Wenos, Vice President of Global Technology and Engineering at Allegion.
Jason Spielfogel, Director of Product Management at Identiv, said creating an access control system that didn’t require the specific cooperation of the user had always been the Achilles heel of contactless biometric systems. This is because such systems generally require the subject to be in an exact spot and/or looking at a specific place for the system to recognize and authenticate the user. However, as technologies that can recognize an iris or a face at non-direct angles mature these barriers can be overcome. “When combined with systems designed to prevent tailgating, this technology has the potential to revolutionize security checkpoints,” Spielfogel said.
Gemalto recently announced a joint pilot program with a leading airline to implement a biometric boarding system. According to Francois Lasnier, SVP of Identity and Access Management at Gemalto: “The test will confirm that passenger needs and expectations are met through use of facial recognition versus a traditional boarding pass as well as satisfying CBP (Customs and Border Protection) U.S. Exit requirements.”
Allegion’s Wenos noted that government and public safety would no longer be the only primary verticals utilizing biometric technologies, adding that education and health care would also see expanded use for general access control.
“In health care, applications are likely to include streamlined workflows that improve staff utilization and patient outcomes; more cleanliness with contactless implementations; and verified identity for access to patient information and other data.
“Businesses, too, may dramatically increase the use of biometrics for logical access control, with potentially 90 percent using the technology by 2020 according to Spiceworks,” Wenos said.
John Davies, MD of TDSi, said construction sites were a good example of where biometric access control could be beneficial. In such an environment, it was far more practical for workers to use a palm-vein or facial-recognition system, as carrying a token would be impractical and a fingerprint could be difficult to read due to the harsh conditions workers’ hands are exposed to, he added.
Such a system would also be well suited to sports grounds or stadiums, where the professional players need to gain access to non-public access areas without having the availability of pockets or a bag to carry credentials.
According to Wenos, another contactless biometric gaining ground was voice technology, as evidenced by double-digit growth in the adoption of voice assistants. “Voice authentication can be a bridge between physical and digital security and an extra layer of protection when needed,” he said.
Still, there are barriers to adoption. Richard Huison, Regional Manager for U.K. and Europe at Gallagher Security, pointed to the increased consciousness of data privacy in the post-GDPR era, saying that people were worried the “authorities … are taking a picture of me” without knowing “what they might do with it.”
“The fact that the system is just taking measurements of certain facial characteristics and plugging them in to an algorithmic image doesn’t matter. It’s the same reason why scanners in cashpoints didn’t take off 20 years ago -- because of people’s fear. But, ultimately, because of the consumer convenience it will be a growing trend and the technology will improve to facilitate this, along with public education to conquer the fear factor,” he said.