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Biometric Authentication: The Future of IoT Security Solutions

By Special Guest
Katrine Spirina, Correspondent
July 05, 2018

There is much talk nowadays of IoT and associated technologies. Beneath the buzzwords, there is a technological phenomenon of two simultaneously developing and merging areas – biometric identification and IoT. The two can provide engineering minds with every chance to introduce new standards of digital security in smart environments.

Leading solution providers are adjusting their development practices to meet the shift in the IoT-focused industry. This article is dedicated to like-minded dreamers, innovators, and investors seeking to translate the tendency into successful products and services.

Biometric markers
The measurements of the human body cannot always ensure prompt and precise person identification. From the history of criminalistics, there are some examples of methods – e.g., anthropometry – that faced rapid rise and fall due to proven inefficiency. Even modern methods of dactylography trigger concerns about the validity of the results. However, a number of human biometric markers are actively used today for merging with technologies, particularly, when it comes to digital security issues.

Voice identification
Digital communication lines ensure sufficient quality of connection to implement accurate voice recognition and caller authentication solutions. Call centers actively implement the technologies in their workflows. Additionally, there are some successful software text-to-speech solutions that allow generating synthetic voice based on the set parameters, i.e., language, gender, timbre, etc.

However, the security issues are already around the corner. The first thing that springs to mind is errors in commands recognition and false alarms that the users of computer and smartphone voice control systems can come across. The flawless work of this system can be affected externally by ambient noise level, unknown sound sources, and the quality of sound-locating equipment. Until such technical aspects as perfect voice source recording and ambient noise filtering solved, the biometrics-based solutions are unlikely to come into widespread use.

Fingerprints
Fast, cheap, and accurate sensors are employed in dactylography to ensure the primary level of security of various mobile gadgets, cars, and more. The use of such sensors is the cornerstone of security technology in daily use.

Iris recognition system
Iris scanners and advanced retinal blood vessel scanners have appeared in consumers’ devices fairly recently. Such step up in the development of security solutions was predetermined by high-quality and high-performance compact photo modules (some similar to those used in mobile phones.)

Face recognition
For general users, it may be a brand new technology, while law enforcement officials have been using face recognition for a long time. On taking pictures of faces, high-tech scanners immediately construct a 3D model to compare it with a template.

DNA testers
This technology still has a touch of sci-fi. Even the fastest DNA testing techniques take several hours, and the total time depends on the number of DNA markers to identify. Nonetheless, the future of biometric identification arguably lies in DNA tests, as DNA is one of the critical biometric constants.

Biometric solutions for IoT
We can name a dozen of modern solutions with biometric identification successfully applied: biometric locks, personalized coffee machines, smartphones with fingerprint scanners, smart entrance doors with face recognition, pet food dispensers, customer support systems equipped with voice identification. The cases of using IoT-based technologies are growing in number, which leads to shaping new classes of smart things.

Let's get the insight into some business opportunities that the merge of biometric and IoT-based technologies enables.

Biometrics as a service
It is rather a concept today than a fine-tuned security solution. The opportunity of remote biometric scanning is associated with a number of engineering challenges, and seamless Internet connectivity is one of those. It is the spreading of IoT at the level of industry standards which allows ensuring support of the data transmission channels that can make biometric identification operations possible at the level of remote service. It will virtually save users from the necessity of having physical identifiers, such as NFC tags, proximity cards, and other types of chips for keyless access devices.

In the foreseeable future, consumers will definitely see the use of biometrics as a service by specialized complexes. A new class of custom web applications and services will be strengthened by biometrics-based security, and common devices like smartphones or laptop fingerprint sensor will be available for use to maintain an appropriate security level. Still, these services entering a large consumer market is a dim perspective. Biometrics services could smoothly function within the IoT infrastructure. But the stage of unification of protocols and standards for IoT devices is just finishing.

Material things personalization
Have you heard of a coffee machine making owner’s favorite drink after fingerprint recognition? More and more solutions of this kind loom on the horizon. Such symbiosis of smart things and biometric identification capabilities can result in a profound change in the world of products and services. Even today, consumers can use their profiles for automatic customization of driver's seat in a car or downloading required climate control settings. However, the growing number of customization opportunities will result in the technical sophistication and costs increase, which can restrain consumer demand.

Biometric locks for firearms
Law enforcement and military services take a vested interest in biometric authentication technologies for firearms. Veri-Fire has become the pioneer in this field. Born across cutting-edge technologies, new solutions for such well-established and tradition-saturated industry as firearms raise a lot of concerns, like:

  • The ability of remote activation/deactivation of weapons
  • The inability of using weapons on civilians or unarmed targets
  • The ability to control the lethal level

Biometric targeting
With growing capabilities, biometric identification systems allow creating more persuasive and targeted advertising. The thematic scope of digital adds become more relevant to user’s search history. Different examples of personal targeting of promotional messages can be observed even today. Shortly, managers and store owners will be able to identify customers visiting their stores and access the purchase history. Interactive billboards will broadcast personalized advertising information. On this point, the face recognition technology could be used for biometric authentication.

Biometric Testing
Surely, you have heard of the Amazon’s experiment with AI in the field of e-commerce. Individual retailers and retail networks have to ponder the value of data they can collect by using Amazon-like technologies. Currently, they make use of information about products sales, returns, and quality complaints. But thanks to to the visual biometric identification, it is possible to analyze some prerequisites for any purchase decision, define accompanying purchases, adjust products and product groups included in the comparison lists. The logic of consumers' navigation in retail stores and the quality of interaction with the sales staff will become more transparent. Finally, the tech-based approach can help eliminate the problem of shoplifting and store security issues.

Problems and challenges
Biometric identification technology is far from perfection. The bulk of identification and authentication means can only be used to recognize a given attribute leaving aside the individual’s specific qualities. The ability of digital systems to distinguish between voluntary and involuntary actions - e.g., unlocking a smartphone with a fingerprint - is a concern that has been discussed several times but still has no solution.

Moreover, physiological measurements, i.e., fingerprints, retina vessels or iris pattern, feature inconsistency as they can be modified. It makes the developers of security solutions to strengthen biometric locks with pin codes, thus lowing the level of security.

Also, the face recognition technology has its flaws. The illumination, the quality of photo modules, the distance between an object and a lens – all these factors, to varying degree, affect the final result. The systems based solely on photo module data can be bypassed with the use of photo prints, posters, stickers or masks.

For now, all the attempts to improve the quality of identification lead to a significant price increase. It results in reducing demand from end products manufacturer. Still, biometric identification technologies spring up in the world of physical objects and IoT-based digital solutions. The trend is gaining momentum, and consumers can expect the qualitative leap in the development of biometrics-based sensors.

About the author: Katrine Spirina is a technology journalist with OCSICO, a software development company headquartered in San Jose, California. Katrine covers trends in web and mobile development, business intelligence, IoT, data, fleet management, and e-commerce. Her articles have been featured on ITProPortal, Hacker Noon, Total Retail. She can be reached at Katrine.Spirina@ocsico.com.




Edited by Ken Briodagh
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