Biometrics Industry: Emerging Face of Technology Admist COVID-19

The password and pin system is ‘prehistoric’ now! Welcome to the millennial tech of biometrics. The pandemic spread of COVID-19 led to the boom of the biometrics industry. Biometrics refers to the automatic identification of people based on their physiological or behavioral characteristics. This is to ensure improved security than traditional identification methods. As the world’s nations are going through massive shutdowns, people are trying to maintain social distancing to reduce the spread of the virus. This gave a surge to several contactless devices in personal and public usage. Recently, the New York City Police Department prohibited using fingerprint identification security procedures for employees entering buildings. Facial recognition, thermal body imaging, iris scanner for house door locking, etc. are all widespread examples of biometrics. While other authentication methods and software are taking a backseat due to the pandemic, biometrics is here to stay.

Currently, Israel has employed AnyVision’s thermal detection technology at its hospital for the detection of elevated body temperatures and the cause behind it. Another startup based in Israel, called Vocalis Health is using voice to detect and survey the health status of the user.  In Britain, startup company, VST Enterprises (VSTE) has developed a biometrics-backed digital healthcare passport with VCode to help NHS and Health Care trust workers and blue light emergency services get back to work faster. Even firms like iRespond and Simprints developed Biometric-based IDs. Meanwhile, China has started installing facial recognition based infrared imaging camera on their smart healthcare buses that can monitor and screen passengers as soon as they ride it. It can send alert the bus driver when a sick person boards. This bus made by Sunwin Bus Corporation can also sterilize the bus’s interior. Even FacePhi, a leader in face detection AI tools is continuing with its facial recognition projects. Their technology has been deployed to Kangbuk Samsung Hospital in Seoul, South Korea.

To introduce biometrics into the company’s infrastructure, the authorities must establish trust with the public. While they offer seamless authentication, convenience needs to prioritize too. To implement password-free authentication across the entire company, businesses must make sure they can remove passwords and credential-based solutions completely and integrate the strategy with all interfaces and systems. Plus stricter protocols must be implemented to support and convince people to adhere to them. For example FIDO Alliance, Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML), and similar others. Governments around the globe are now planning to back this switch as an alternative solution at least until the crisis is averted. Although the situation may not be the same everywhere. For instance, certain Indian states have put a brake on the use of biometrics due to fear of privacy or transmission of the virus via contact-based sensors. Same as the American state of Illinois who recently filed a lawsuit against tech giant Google over a violation on grounds of unlawful monitoring and profiling of children’s data like facial scans and voiceprints. Furthermore, Google’s Chromebooks did not seek parental consent for the same.

Other than such flaws, one thing is sure; this field is continuously evolving and drastically innovating itself. Projected to grow at CAGR of 18% and reach the milestone of generating $76.64 billion by 2027, there is nothing to hinder its popularity.