Biometric multimodality is the way to go

Apple’s launch of the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X was not only exciting news for tech fans – it’s also excellent proof of a constantly evolving industry, where the capabilities and features of the smartphone constantly evolves. Yesterday, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus were launched with touch ID, while the high-end smartphone iPhone X was introduced with Face ID.  The introduction of Face ID is another sign of the speed of innovation when it comes biometrics.

In this blog post, Fingerprints’ CTO Pontus Jägemalm, elaborates on how multimodality increases security.

Improved security through biometric multimodality
The need for secure and easy-to-use systems to verify our identities is steadily increasing, as the amount of passwords we need to remember on a daily basis seems to be a never ending story. There is of course also a need to easily and quickly identify individuals, such as when entering or leaving major events or at airports. All of this means systems must be user-friendly, cost-effective and not least secure. In such a world, different biometric systems will sometimes, and probably increasingly, be required to work together, what is known as multimodality, to create completely secure solutions.

The need for biometric verification methods is enormous and is growing as we transfer more information to the cloud. At the same time, the biometric verification market is in its infancy and will ultimately, as is the case with most other markets, offer a range of different solutions adapted to differing needs. This means there will be a number of solutions for the broad market, which sometimes can operate independently but increasingly in the future will work together with one or more other technologies. 

One way or another, it’s gonna’ get you
Multimodality is now becoming increasingly common. Verification through the fingerprint is an established method, which Apple’s launch of the new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus yesterday is further proof of, but complementary solutions are being widely adopted as well. For example, a few weeks ago, Alibaba and its finance company ANT Financials launched a test whereby payments could be conducted using facial recognition at Kentucky Fried Chicken in Hangzhou. We have seen how Samsung uses both a fingerprint sensor and iris scanner in its latest flagship model S8. And yesterday, Apple’s high-end model iPhone X was launched with facial recognition, “Face ID”. These technologies can be seen as broadening the opportunities the market may offer in the future and will most likely be used as a complement to other solutions.

What’s user-friendliness, cost-effectiveness and security to do with it?
A number of factors come into play when a manufacturer chooses the type of verification it will implement in its products, but ultimately it boils down to a balance between cost and customer benefit. When we at Fingerprints experienced the breakthrough for our fingerprint sensors in China, it was closely linked to demand from end customers for simple and secure ways to conduct mobile payments. Our sensors fulfilled both the demands from producers and the customers’ needs and willingness to pay, which was key to the rapid penetration.

The types of situations when users will consider it most convenient and secure to use their fingerprint, face, eye or other biometric solution as a verification key will become apparent over time. But there will always be a balance between security, the cost customers are willing to pay and user-friendliness.

Our solution is fingers AND eyes – Fingerprint AND Iris recognition
Our acquisition of Delta ID should be viewed in the light of the above, meaning that we believe the market for biometric identity verification will not be about one technology that beats all of the others, but rather that several technologies will integrate with each other depending on the application and specific use. With Delta ID’s iris solution, one of the few certified and directly targeted towards Aadhaar, India’s national biometric ID program, we can offer a completely unique multimodality. The combination of Fingerprints’ market-leading fingerprint sensors and our offering of iris scanning creates a unique offering.

As regards to user-friendliness, we know that our fingerprint sensors are used billions of time each day and with Delta ID’s partnership with the government of India, more than 1 billion residents in India are/will be identified and have their irises scanned for the Aadhaar database. Being able to show actual benefits is, of course, highly important, particularly for mass markets such as smartphones. Meaning you can offer not only security but also a solution that is proven.

I’ll stop there for today and hope you’ve enjoyed my very first post here on our blog. Please stay tuned for more, as we will also add some more flavor on Iris and other interesting topics in the coming weeks!

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/Pontus Jägemalm