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Concerns over hygiene sends biometric device revenue spiralling

07 May 2020

Biometric devices are expected to see a ‘major revenue drop’ this year, with close contact interactions like fingerprint reading having been outlawed by many jurisdictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to data released today by ABI Research, the market for biometric devices will plummet by US$2 billion over the course of 2020. 

“Contact biometric technologies like fingerprint and vein have been dealt a substantial blow due to new governmental regulations targeting contact and close-proximity interactions,” says ABI Research digital security analyst Dimitrios Pavlakis.

“Fingerprint biometrics vendors are struggling to uphold the new stringent hygiene and infection control protocols. 

“These regulations have been correctly introduced for the safety of users and personnel, but they have also affected sales in certain verticals."

Conversely, the pandemic has given rise to new identification and surveillance needs, spurring further investments in biometric Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithm design, which will give a boost to the face recognition technologies market going forward.

The total biometric device market is expected to reach $28.2 billion in 2020, with the government and security market taking a significant hit of $1.1 billion. Fingerprint device sales are also expected to decrease in 2020 by $1.2 billion.  

“On-premises physical access control, user registration, identification, and workforce management systems have been greatly affected in the enterprise and commercial space, but these applications also spread into healthcare, law enforcement, border control, government, civil, and welfare,” says Pavlakis.

“While contact-only companies will have additional hurdles to overcome in most markets, innovative companies like Gemalto and IDEMIA have already adapted their solutions offering contact-less fingerprint sensing technologies. 

“Additionally, fingerprint sensor vendors operating in consumer markets like FPC and Goodix will be mostly affected by smartphone sales, rather than hygiene concerns, due to the personal nature of user authentication.”

It’s not all grim news, however, as AI biometric firms adapt to the biological threat by undergoing a ‘forced evolution’ rather than an organic one. 

As a result, new IoT and smart city-focused applications can potentially introduce new data streams and analytics, monitoring infection rates in real-time, forcing new data-sharing initiatives, and even applying behavioural AI models to predict future outbreaks.

Face and iris recognition have been brought into the spotlight as key technologies allowing authentication, identification, and surveillance operations for users and citizens wearing protective headgear, face masks, or, with partially covered faces. 

These elements have now been integrated into algorithm developers’ value proposition followed by further investment boost targeted at surveillance, video analytics and smart city applications. 

Temperature and fever detection technologies making use of infrared technologies have also been retrofitted in access and border control while biometric telemedicine applications are providing healthcare support to consumers and patients remotely.