Emerging biometric technologies poised for growth

The biometrics market in Asia is set to grow, in particular driven by technological advancements, increased awareness and lowered costs, says analyst.

Most biometric systems still employ fingerprint identification, but new technologies are poised for growth, driven by increased awareness and lowered costs of the technologies involved, said a Frost & Sullivan analyst.

In a Web briefing conducted Friday, Navin Rajendra, electronics and security industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan, said fingerprint scanning accounted for 73 percent of biometrics revenue in the Asia-Pacific market last year.

The rest of the biometrics market went primarily to facial recognition, iris scanning, palm vein scanning and voice recognition, at 14 percent, 6 percent, 4 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

This emerging section of the pie is expected to grow, thanks to technological advances resulting in smaller form factors, lowered costs and integration with one another, said Rajendra.

This integration can be seen in use cases such as immigration checkpoints where an individual may get both his fingerprints and facial features scanned. This ensures a more secure check with two layers of security, while keeping costs down by employing two comparatively affordable technologies, explained the analyst. He noted that while iris recognition is more accurate compared with fingerprinting or face scanning, the former comes at a greater deployment cost.

Growth of the biometrics market has been fueled by government projects, and the trend is likely to continue, he said.

He highlighted the Indian National ID Project, announced last year, which aims to capture every citizen's biometric details by 2014.

While the Indian government is building its biometric systems from scratch and will be expected to take some time to complete the mammoth task, the project is expected to activate "the entire value chain" across database servers, middleware and smart cards, he said.

And as governments continue to explore different technologies, the industry can expect potential revenue to grow dramatically over the next five years, said Rajendra.

One of the technologies, palm vein verification, was implemented in the banking industry in Japan because users of traditional fingerprint scanners felt that these were unhygienic, he said.

Facial recognition has also been taking off due to the unobtrusive nature of its process, which does not require contact with the user, he said.

The technology has been of particular interest to countries which have mass transportation, such as railway stations, because it can be used to sweep a crowd for identities, said Rajendra. Another use case could be in casinos to identify card counters, he added.

Rajendra noted that back in 2008, the biometrics market in Asia had not hit its sweet spot yet.