Biometrics, are you ready to adopt it?

Saturday, February 1, 2003

Editor, Security Systems News

It's safe to say that over the past few years biometrics applications are gaining wider acceptance in the security market.

In the past it seemed like biometric security devices were only readily seen in the movies. Many of us can rattle off at least a few examples, old and new movies alike, where biometrics is a key element of the story. There’s “Mission Impossible,” the James Bond flick “Die another Day” and “Total Recall,” just to name a few.

But today, biometrics is not just being used fictitiously in the movies, but has become a real-life application embraced by the government. And the private sector is expected to catch on more, as well.

A new study just released by Allied Business Intelligence points to just that. It shows that the Department of Homeland Security is the catalyst for the biometric industry. It’s estimated that government agencies accounted for 15 percent of the total biometric reveunue in 2002. By the end of this year it’s expected that the biometric industry will generate $153 million in total revenue across all vertical markets.

Not only is biometrics gaining wider acceptance thanks to the government and key pieces of security related legislation such as the USA Patriot Act, the Border Security & Visa Entry Reform Act and the Homeland Security Act of 2002, but the biometric industry has a whole as made great strides on its own in the last few years.

Those strides can be summed up by a few key words – affordability and reliability. The old systems of yesterday were more costly than those available today. And with technological advances that provide a variety of biometric options, from fingerprint and iris to facial and hand geometry, there are more choices and more reliable products today enabling users to find the right technology to fit their application.

I’ve always been impressed with biometric technologies. Besides being engrossed in spy-like movies involving the CIA and FBI, the biometric component in these flicks have often caught my attention. And at recent trade shows I’ve had the pleasure of using the technology, too.

I, like many others, I would imagine, find biometrics appealing, in part, because it’s flashy. It’s called by some the latest and greatest access control application available. Who wouldn’t find it at least a little bit neat to have your finger, hand or iris act as the method that allows you access into a building or another secured area?

Biometrics has come a long way. We’re seeing more systems integrators adopt the technology and integrate it into their security applications now that price points have come down and reliability increased. And in recent years, the market has been flooded with new biometric manufacturers followed by a number of consolidations of biometric companies looking to gain strength in the market.

With all the advances that we’ve seen, it’s only fair to say there’s still room for improvement. More training needs to become available to dealers and systems integrators from biometric manufacturers to increase their comfort level and knowledge about integrating such systems with other security devices.

Biometrics is here to stay. Now are you ready to adopt it?

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