Smartphone biometrics still in their infancy

by Matt Klassen on September 3, 2014

Although high-end smartphones already sport finger print scanning technology, according to Rick Bergman, CEO of biometrics technology firm Synaptics, the “business of making fingerprint readers a part of smartphones is still in its infancy.” The future of the market, Bergman notes, is the mass deployment of biometric technology, making them a standard feature across the smartphone market, particularly as the cost of such features continues to drop.

Apple garnered attention last year when it included a fingerprint reader as a way of unlocking the iPhone 5S, a technology that rival Samsung quickly incorporated as well. But smartphone unlocking is but only one deployment of biometric scanning, as advanced security will soon be needed across several mobile sectors.

In fact, Bergman believes we’ve only begun to see the possible uses of fingerprint scanning and other such biometric technologies, tools that will likely play a significant role in the growing m-commerce, advanced mobile security solutions, and intuitive interaction with gadgets and devices in the growing Internet of Things. Simply put, wherever interface with technology is needed, there’s likely an opportunity for biometric technology.

The next step for fingerprint scanning technology will be mass deployment, Bergman notes, predicting that this next year will see a lot of smartphone debut with fingerprint readers, referring to the next Mobile Congress as a “coming out moment” for the technology.

“Samsung is our largest customer, but you’ll see a lot of other manufacturers with fingerprint reading capabilities,” Bergman said in a recent interview. Mass adoption will be fuelled by the cost of such technology coming down; allowing even mobile manufacturers with razor thin profit margins to employ the advanced security feature.

As mentioned, Bergman is the CEO of Synaptics, a technology firm that makes fingerprint sensors for various electronic gadgets. It currently supplies the sensors found in the Galaxy S5 and the HTC One Max. Apple, it should be noted, uses its own in-house sensor built by recent acquisition Authentec.

But although Bergman predicts the growth of fingerprint sensors, he does acknowledge that the technology has lots of room for improvement, particularly when it comes to speed. “It needs to be like the on/off button,” he said. “We need to make it faster, and today, it’s not the case.” The several second delay of fingerprint scanners has been a source of frustration for users, something Synaptics is working on improving.

Despite this key drawback Bergman believes that business will soar because for three primary benefits: “convenience in unlocking phones, security and a method of confirming a transaction.”

Beyond fingerprint scanners, Synaptics is also working on touchpad technology, eye-scanning, and gesture controls, all part of the future of incorporating biometrics into everyday life. Further, the growing Internet of Things offers a unique opportunity for growth, as at its core Synaptics’ business is all about using sensors to make technology intuitive and easy-to-use, something that will be of utmost importance when everything in our digital existence employs some sort of interface.

In the end I have to say that I love reading about companies like Synaptics, as they offer a tantalizing glimpse of our technological future, one, in this case, that will offer intuitive and instant interface with our mobile technology with little more than a touch of the finger, a wave of a hand, or the blink of an eye.

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

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