Will the iPhone 5s Boost the Biometric Market?

17 Sep Will the iPhone 5s Boost the Biometric Market?

When we’re routinely relying on fingerprints or another biometric tech instead of — ugh — usernames and passwords, we may look back on the launch of the iPhone 5s as a groundbreaking day in tech history. Once again, Apple is taking something that’s been around for a while but hasn’t quite caught on and turning it into something that tech-savvy consumers will soon consider a necessity.

As with any iPhone launch, there is always some new special feature that will have their die-hard fans waiting all hours just to get their hands on one. This time, it’s the built-in fingerprint scanner which will replace the need for a PIN to access the phone and will also link up to the Apple Store and aid buying apps.

For those who are unsure of biometric technology, biometrics basically stands for ‘life measurement’. It uses unique features of who we are; fingerprint, iris, voice and even gait to measure who we are and therefore authenticate that we are who we say we are. This technology can be used alongside time & attendance software for gyms, businesses and leisure clubs and can also be used for access control purposes to gain entry into a secured door. However, Apple is using biometrics much in the same way as some ATM machines which have utilised the technology, that your fingerprint acts as a password and all it takes is one scan to authenticate you and grant you access into the secured ‘portal’.

Really Fast

Other mobile phone makers have dabbled with fingerprint authentication — most notably Motorola, now owned by Google — but the technology has failed to catch on, largely because its hassles have outweighed its benefits, for example teaching users how the technology works and informing them of data protection and human rights (which are not infringed by the way). There are indications, though, that Apple may have hit the bulls-eye where others have missed the target.

“It’s really fast,” Yankee Group Research Director Carl Howe told MacNewsWorld after some hands-on experience with the new iPhone following Apple’s announcement. “It’s as convenient as unlocking your phone normally.”

While fingerprint technology has been around for a while, it hasn’t been mainstream.

“I think this will be the first broad use of it,” Howe said.

“Fingerprint-based identification technology is likely to be introduced by other manufacturers in the near future and may catch on as a mode of payment elsewhere as a result,” he added.

Boost for Biometrics

Biometric authentication used in the iPhone may provide some real market presence for biometrics in the coming months.

“What putting a fingerprint scanner in the iPhone has done is get millions of people into the biometric conversation, which has been going on for 20 years,” Cigital Principal Consultant Paco Hope told MacNewsWorld.

“This whole concept of biometrics is going to mature rapidly because now it’s finally in everyone’s hands,” he predicted.

“It’s estimated that Apple iOS penetration is only 17 percent of the total market, while PC and laptop fingerprint sensor penetration is at about 20 percent now and has been thereabouts for years,” he told MacNewsWorld.

“Though the PC market is provisioned — and now so is the Apple iPhone market — widespread penetration cannot and will not occur without open standards that make authentication methods interoperable,” Barrett maintained.

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