Biometrics: Prepare for a seismic shift


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Bobby Varma, Co-Founder and CEO, Princeton Identity highlights eight biometric trends to look out for in 2024.

Each year, the technology we rely on is more autonomous, interconnected and personalised. To perform as intended, these solutions must know – with certainty – with whom they interact.

Users want methods to prove their identities that are convenient, flexible, accurate and secure.

Unsurprisingly, biometrics are gaining ground in mainstream applications. As we begin 2024, here are trends sure to impact the biometric marketplace this year and beyond.

A continued focus on user experience

Biometrics have long been the default for some of the highest security applications, but their convenience is now the driving force behind broader adoption. For users, they are “the ultimate wearable” – something they always have with them. 

The next level up in user experience will be biometric identity solutions that identify users on the move, creating a completely seamless experience.

And, unlike surveillance systems that raise privacy concerns through facial recognition, these solutions will leverage other modalities, like iris, voice and gait.

Some on-the-move solutions are already on the market. Expect them to gain further traction in applications requiring high throughput of enrolled users, like airports, stadiums and industrial facilities where thousands of shift workers arrive simultaneously.

Growing demand for multifactor authentication

Many apps and IT departments make multifactor authentication the norm. Physical security is next.

It’s dangerous for companies to allow anyone who presents an access card or PIN code into their buildings.

Lax user verification and authentication at access control points compromises physical and cyber-assets.

Pairing cards or PIN codes with biometrics makes it impossible for users to share credentials or for imposters to use lost or cloned cards. 

Multifactor authentication is considered less convenient for users, but it doesn’t have to be.

Be on the lookout for multimodal devices that can authenticate users in two or more ways as effortlessly as traditional access readers.

A need for alternative modalities

Justified or not, skepticism regarding facial identification is not going away soon.

The public wants the convenience of facial biometrics without the associated concerns over privacy, potential use without owner consent and inequitable treatment of skin tones and ethnicities.

Anticipate growing interest in iris recognition.

Like the face, identification occurs with just a glance and is far more accurate. Unlike the face, iris data cannot be harvested from publicly available databases or social media for use in surveillance applications.

Worries over AI spoofing capabilities

We’ve all seen deep fakes on YouTube and TikTok. Widely available AI tools realistically simulate the faces, voices and movements of anyone with a digital presence.

Manufacturers of biometric identity solutions are working hard to ensure those techniques cannot be used to fool their technology. 

Some modalities are inherently more resistant to spoofing than others. With AI as a growing threat and top-of-mind, expect to hear more from manufacturers on this topic.

Interest in cloud platforms

Compared to most business software, which pivoted to the SaaS model over a decade ago, physical security has been slower to embrace cloud solutions. That is changing quickly.

According to recent research by Genetec that surveyed over 5,500 physical security professionals worldwide, 80% of companies now host at least part of their security platforms in the cloud and 74% anticipate an increase in cloud connectivity in 2024 (State of Physical Security Report 2024).

Biometric identity solutions are consistent with this trend. Cloud biometric platforms are ideal for enterprises, where user databases are shared across multiple locations.

They also offer flexible management, require fewer in-house IT resources and come with a lower total cost of ownership.

Decentralised storage of biometrics using mobile platforms

Smartphones already perform biometric authentication.

Combining capabilities with mobile access credentials stored in wallet apps creates robust dual authentication without including biometric data within the enrolled user database.

More frequent use in logical access applications

Gartner reports that while most organisations have yet to implement zero trust, they are currently developing strategies for implementation (What are practical projects for implementing zero trust?).

One of the biggest challenges is defining reasonable methods for repeated user verification and authentication.

Biometrics are the most convenient, seamless way for someone working on a computer to continually verify their identity without disrupting their workflow.

Solutions that leverage computers’ built-in cameras or plug-in reader devices will play a vital role in the widespread adoption of zero trust.

Expansion of integrated solutions

Management teams recognise that the biometric platforms they utilise for access control can offer value elsewhere within their organisations.

Time and attendance, visitor management and point-of-sale solutions can link to the same database, consolidating administrative responsibilities while delivering added conveniences to enrolled users.

Higher-ed campuses, in particular, are beginning to add a biometric component to their student and staff identity management platforms.

    Advancements in tech keep marching forward at a dizzying speed. Solutions that recognise and accommodate our individuality while respecting our privacy are fundamental to successful adoption.

    One day soon, the use of biometrics to interact with myriad devices and technologies will be as commonplace as its integration with smartphones.

    A seismic shift is coming. 2024 is just the start!

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