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

NEWS ANALYSIS: The availability of cheaper sensors, vastly improved authentication software and a growing need for tighter peripheral security are the key factors.

Passwords, a mainstay of IT security for decades, are unquestionably on the way out when it comes to device or account security. It's simply too easy for a motivated hacker with the right tools to discover one or more of a typical user's passwords and do serious damage to bank and credit accounts.

There are a number of alternative security schemes available to organizations and individuals, including two-factor authentication, encryption and secure virtual private networks. However, it is very clear that new biometrics IT and devices have become the hottest security area of interest at the CES 2015 in Las Vegas.

Biometrics certainly isn't new, but like all IT, it has continued to evolve over the years and now apparently has arrived as a feature that ostensibly will be included on most connected devices we'll be owning in the future. Most laptop and smartphone owners already are familiar with fingerprint sensors that allow only one user; however, the biometric software and devices being shown at CES go way beyond that simple use case.

Biometrics Being Deployed in Imaginative Ways

Most biometrics are being developed for security purposes, but other entrepreneurs are using their imaginations to find other new and interesting ways to measure bodily attributes -- including skin temperature and voice and facial recognition.

Some of the new biometric devices -- many of which involve children -- being demonstrated at CES include:

--a connected pacifier (pictured) that monitors temperature and location of the baby and notifies a parent via smartphone when there's an important change;

--a smart baby bottle that keeps track of how fast and how much a baby is drinking and sends the results to a smartphone;

--a device that measures car-interior temperature and oxygen levels and notifies parents that they have left a child or children alone (this happens more often than one might think);

--bras, socks and headbands that analyze brain waves, heart rates and sweat levels to help detect early signs of disease or determine a wearer's level of concentration;

--cars that only will start only upon recognition of the owner's voice; and

--ear buds that enable tracking of a listener's music choices.

The raft of new biometric tools has been aided by three key factors: a new abundance of less-expensive sensors -- most of which are made in the Far East; continual advances in software that connects them with cloud services; and a growing IT investment economy.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...