NFC and Biometrics: A Look into our Mobile Future

by Matt Klassen on September 16, 2011

Its stories like this that drive home the point that no matter how technologically advanced we think we are here in North America; we still lag agonizingly behind much of Asia. While our current mobile reality consists of maturing technologies like Bluetooth, 4G networks, Wi-Fi enabled devices, and various other location services and hands-free gadgets, the future of our technological existence is quickly coming into focus, and the depressing thing is that it’s been a reality overseas for some time now.

In two separate reports published this week, analysts are predicting an explosion in two particular mobile technologies, near-field communication (NFC) and biometric security. Briefly, the former is the technology behind the mobile payment revolution while the latter consists of biological interfacing with our mobile devices.

The strange thing about both these technologies is that they’ve both been around the mobile scene for quite some time now, but have yet to catch on in the North American market. Nevertheless, times are changing, and we only have to look to Asia to see how things will turn out.

The first report, issued by independent market research and consultancy firm IMS Research, focuses on the explosion of wireless data transfer technologies in the next few years, predicting steady growth for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technologies amidst a veritable deluge of NFC enabled products.

It is the latter, the report says, that will dominate our technological future. Briefly, NFC technology consists of a contactless data transfer between two points, one of those points likely being your smartphone. The technology itself is set to be a key facet in the emerging mobile payment revolution, currently under development by the likes of Google, PayPal, T-Mobile, and Visa among others.

One of the key concerns for this burgeoning NFC technology, however, is security, which provides the prefect segue into a report issued by research and marketing firm Goode Intelligence. In a strange sort of a symbiotic coincidence, the report states that although various mobile biometric technologies have existed for well over a decade–although never experiencing widespread adoption–other emerging technologies like NFC may provide the necessary ecosystem for biometrics to flourish.

The biometric technology in question, the report indicates, can be broken down into two different categories: “The first is embedded mobile biometrics (EMB), including fingerprint sensors embedded by device manufacturers, and the second is third-factor authentication, where mobile biometrics are used in combination with other authentication solutions such as voice-based biometrics.”

While all of this seems like the technological future for us, it exists as the technological reality for parts of Asia, particularly in Japan, “where consumers are benefiting from fingerprint-based biometric security to protect NFC payments at the physical point of sale.” The Goode report predicts that the North American market will see a similar concomitant rise of NFC and biometrics, as the latter will help augment the current security protocols in an effort to make people feel more comfortable using mobile payment technologies.

In the end, these two separate reports offer a tantalizing glimpse into the near future of the mobile market, a future where the intrinsic link between us and our mobile devices only continues to deepen.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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