The Future is Bright for Mobile Biometrics

From fingerprint to iris, mobile biometrics are evolving at such a rapid pace it’s often difficult for consumers to keep up. Nearly every mid- to high-end device on the market offers a fingerprint scanner today, and Samsung and Apple have begun paving the way for more advanced methods of biometric capture as well with iris and Apple’s new Face ID. But what does the future hold?

Advances in Face Recognition

While Apple is hedging its bets on face recognition, many are skeptical that replacing Touch ID with Face ID will be popular among consumers. In addition to the potential problems for people of color, some privacy and security advocates have voiced concerns that the more widespread use of facial biometrics will be abused by law enforcement and the government. However, regardless of the potential misuse of the technology, what’s most impressive about the iPhone X is the combination of technology Apple has deployed. The addition of a dot projector and infrared camera helps form a complete 3-dimensional image of the users face, a dramatic step forward in improving accuracy and potentially reducing the risk of presentation attacks. While we won’t know for sure how Face ID performs until November, the additional technology Apple has invested in shows promise and is a key indicator of the future of front-face camera technology.

The Eyes Have It

Iris continues to be the best option we have for a mobile biometric in terms of quality and security. It is very difficult to capture an image of the irises, especially without a near-infrared camera. As such, offers critical security upgrades when compared to face and fingerprint. However, the expensive and availability of the technology makes it a scarce commodity. Furthermore, iris recognition still suffers from the convenience issue that face does, wherein it’s not always an option to hold your phone like you’re taking a selfie when authenticating. That places iris firmly in the high-security camp but limits its potential use cases moving forward.

Time-Honored Fingerprint

We’ve talked about the issues with Touch ID and similar partial-print sensors on mobile devices before, but there are some significant improvements happening in the mobile fingerprinting space. 4 Fingers TouchlessID offers a serious upgrade over home button sensors that captures four complete prints, but it also offers significant improvements in user experience, as it is far more convenient to use than face or iris in a number of use cases.

As with any mobile biometric deployment, use cases will determine the appropriate method of capturing and authenticating end user’s biometrics, but we think the future is promising for a significant expansion of both how people use biometrics, and how often they are willing to do so.

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