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The new demand for biometric dependency

For many of you reading this, you may be surprised to learn that a global pandemic was anticipated by biologists and scientists across the globe as far back as 1990. Unfortunately, they were anticipating the wrong virus. The industry honed in on influenza as the next potential outbreak ...

July 2020

The new demand for biometric dependency

For many of you reading this, you may be surprised to learn that a global pandemic was anticipated by biologists and scientists across the globe as far back as 1990. Unfortunately, they were anticipating the wrong virus. The industry honed in on influenza as the next potential outbreak. Studies on how to handle such worldwide events have acted as a continuous motivator for the life science industry and technology is often the lifeline for how such strategies can be implemented at a mass scale. Some of which were created for an entirely different purpose that is now proving to have a greater impact on the world.

It does not matter how prepared the industry anticipated it was, given the extensive research that is undertaken daily, Covid has dominated every walk of life and caused distance to become a priority on everyone’s minds. So, is it any surprise that biometrics is being pushed as a solution for our ongoing battle with the virus? A long-term implementation has the potential to become a permanent part of our lives, not just a quick fix. Like most technologies, it comes with its own rules and parameters that need to be adhered to for it to reach its full potential. One of those rules being a willingness to jump in headfirst and see how far biometrics could evolve, including how it can support our return to crucial aspects of daily life.

What are we signing up to?

There is an eagerness from governments to proceed and a common voice of caution from the public. Scepticism is expected with any new piece of tech, regardless of whether it has been around for decades or not. Concerns over government usage with any form of biometric surveillance and facial recognition, fuels an ongoing debate as to whether this global pandemic is a good enough reason to start relying so heavily on this technology.

Accounting for $17.28 billion in 2018, the biometrics market is predicted to reach $76.64 billion by 2027. Before Covid-19, the threat of terrorist attacks and worldwide government disputes acted as a driving force for this potential solution. The ability to track and trace individuals without approaching them was an obvious goal. The virus has only added more fire to the demand that is backing the progression of this market. But just like any innovation, it doesn’t come cheap. Due to rapid digitalisation and its increasing capabilities in the smart technology sector, North America is anticipated to hold a considerable chunk of the market share. But then again, with how temperamental this virus is proving to be, could other countries take over in the digital race for dominating the research behind this tech?

A new decade of biometric transparency

What is our level of understanding and adoption for biometric technology;

“Biometric applications in law enforcement, the integration of biometrics into the passport and VISA’s, a growing FBI fingerprint database in the US, the Malaysian multipurpose smart card, India’s Aadhar Act deployment based on retina scan and fingerprints, the Tri model biometric project of Mexico, the UAE watchlist system using iris recognition, Thailand’s iris biometric visa system, and China’s social ranking system based on facial recognition technology.” Emerging biometric report, 2019.

Biometrics was initially marvelled as a way to speed up identification processes by eliminating the need for paper forms of authentication. Regardless of whether this technology is widely accepted or not, its biggest selling feature; biometrics belongs to the individual. It is genetically authentic and unique to each characteristic that cannot be easily copied or stolen by another. Unlike a passport, password, or ID, which is easily manipulated as an external form of identification, your biometrics are biologically programmed into each individual.

A race to its full capacity

The immediate demand that has been created from Covid-19 is for contactless technologies, which is currently being forced to adapt to face a growing threat. Technologies like face and iris recognition are being propelled forward at a much faster rate than they would have pre-Covid-19. Biometric machine learning and artificial intelligence research are being pushed to new boundaries to support global monitoring, screening, and protective measures. Whether fingerprint and vein recognition models will decline and disappear altogether is yet to be seen, however, they may lie dormant until such a time when we can overcome this global pandemic and find a cure.

 

This is a forced evolution for the biometrics industry and one that will remain unpredictable until Covid-19 is handled on a manageable scale worldwide.