CES 2015: Why Biometric IT Is Finally Moving Into Prime Time

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2015-01-06 Print this article Print

Biometrics Reaches Tipping Point into Mainstream

Shawn DuBravac, Chief Economist of the Consumer Electronics Association, the Arlington, Va.-based industry group that organizes the CES, believes biometrics has finally reached a tipping point in that it is now airtight and ready for mainstream use cases.

"This is an inflection point that I call the sensorization of consumer tech," DuBravac said. "This allows the digitization of everyday objects. Anything that we want to digitize we now can, and health and fitness is just one component. This is where things get into 'Minority Report' territory, because we can embed sensors into so many aspects of our lives."

So how will different types of wearable biometric devices improve individual identification?

"Wearable biometric devices (such as Google Glass, smart watches and wristbands) connected with smartphones or computers using wireless Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or NFC (near field communications) offer a convenient way to identify individuals in different industries," said Arifin Hussain of M2SYS Technology, which develops biometric identity management IT.

"Health care, banking/financial services, and the Internet of things are examples of settings that stand to see huge benefits in different identification scenarios, such as patient identification, mobile payments, banking transactions, employee identification, digital authentication, and more."

Standards Closer Than You Might Think

Surprisingly, IT industry biometric standards aren't far away from being ready for prime time. Fast Identity Online (FIDO), a industry alliance that includes Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Lenovo, Acer and BlackBerry, will reveal new technological standards for biometrics in security at the CES this week.

For example, one of the new standards will enable multiple family members who shared a laptop or tablet PCto use fingerprint biometrics to log on and off their Facebook accounts without having to manually input passwords.

However, there are so many different types of devices and applications, that finalizing enough standards still will take years to complete.

Nonetheless, biometrics -- which has been knocking on the door of mainstream IT for years -- appears finally to have walked through that door and into general acceptance.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK. Twitter: @editingwhiz
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