Are smart phones poised to replace all biometrics hardware in the next several years?

That’s the bold prediction of Hector Hoyos, CEO of Hoyos Labs, one of the pioneers of biometrics technology who owns 59 patents (pending and issued) related to the field. The advent of the smart phone, which amounts to everyone carrying a computer in the palm of their hand, provides all the ability anyone needs to capture biometric information to use for verification, he says.

Breakthrough in technology

“Proprietary biometrics-based hardware will go away in the next three to five years,” Hoyos says. “You don’t need a proprietary sensor with smart phones getting more sophisticated. The time for proprietary hardware for biometrics is over – killed by the mobile industry. The technology is obsolete.”

Instead of biometrics readers costing “thousands of dollars,” capabilities of smart phones will continue to develop to provide the same level of security, says Hoyos. For example, related to physical access control, the smart phone will communicate with an electronic lock using near field communication (NFC). It’s an extension of the idea we have already seen in the market of using a smart phone as a credential.

Many current smart phones have fingerprint authentication, but phones can also be used for other types of biometrics, including face recognition and even iris scanning, says Hoyos.

You don’t need a proprietary sensor with smart phones getting more sophisticated. The time for proprietary hardware for biometrics is over – killed by the mobile industry

Hoyos Labs has also introduced a proprietary four-finger authentication technology – 4F ID – that uses a smartphone’s rear camera and LED flash light, without additional hardware, to capture a person’s four fingerprints to increase reliability and security for the user.

In fact, Hoyos Labs has enabled every major biometric – face, iris, voice and fingerprint – to be captured with a smart phone and applied across a myriad of industries. In addition to physical access control, the technologies can be used for financial services, healthcare, and telecommunications. Hoyas says Microsoft’s three new Lumia smart phones will feature an iris scanner and facial recognition capabilities right on the device.

Addressing security concerns

“On the consumer side, the reality is that all you need is an electronic lock, and your smart phone device becomes the biometric,” says Hoyos.

If greater security is required, applications can deploy hybrid, multi-authentication systems, such as fingerprint combined with a facial or iris scan, he says.

Keeping individual biometric credentials encrypted on smart phones is a more secure option than storing them in a centralised database on a server, which could be subject to hacking despite best efforts to keep it secure. Biometrics contained on smart phones is the best approach to providing verification.

However, in applications that require absolute proof of identification, such as banking applications, a central database is needed and must be protected. A centralised database can ensure that someone doesn’t open multiple accounts at a variety of banks using different names, for example.

Keeping individual biometric
credentials encrypted on smart
phones is a more secure option
than storing them in a centralised
database on a server

Protecting biometrics data

Three years ago, Hoyos Labs developed the BOPS (Biometrics Open Protocol Standard) framework, providing a global infrastructure ensuring end-to-end authentication of biometrics data for applications worldwide. In effect, it is the “back-end” technology for a range of biometrics used in any market.

Hoyos says the framework is a vendor-agnostic infrastructure to support and protect use of biometrics data on the Internet and mobile devices. “Anybody’s train can run on those tracks, any type of biometric,” says Hoyos. “Our infrastructure is agnostic; we provide the plumbing that everybody needs to plug into.”

Among the protections BOPS provides for centralised biometrics required for identification are encryption, secure storage and the practice of dividing a biometric into two parts – stored in different locations – so that violation of any single database would not provide a complete biometric. BOPS protocols also enable secure communication of biometrics to various devices, so a person could use a biometric to secure an Internet of Things device without having to reprogram a user name and password. The BOPS framework has been contributed to IEEE and has been published as the IEEE 2410-2015 standard. [IEEE is the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.]

Hoyos says several physical access control companies are in the process of integrating BOPS into their products. Also, 20 of the Fortune 100 companies are using the standard, which he says is essential for use of biometric data to secure the coming Internet of Things (IoT).

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version

Author profile

Larry Anderson Editor, SecurityInformed.com & SourceSecurity.com

An experienced journalist and long-time presence in the US security industry, Larry is SourceSecurity.com's eyes and ears in the fast-changing security marketplace, attending industry and corporate events, interviewing security leaders and contributing original editorial content to the site. He leads SourceSecurity.com's team of dedicated editorial and content professionals, guiding the "editorial roadmap" to ensure the site provides the most relevant content for security professionals.

In case you missed it

How intelligent video surveillance supports smart mobility
How intelligent video surveillance supports smart mobility

The ease of getting from point A to point B, the effective movement of goods and services, and the flexibility and integration of various modes of transportation are key aspects of mobility today. Smart Mobility has been a key theme in the transportation industry for a while. The idea is to keep traffic flowing and help people to get where they need to be, in a smarter way. To this end, industry players are now innovating and introducing advanced technologies and solutions. Examples include intelligent traffic management systems, free-flow tolls, autonomous driving, smart location solutions, and more. At the same time, traffic congestion, aging infrastructure, rapid urbanisation, and increasing sustainability demands are also intensifying the need for smart mobility solutions. One way to overcome these obstacles is to use intelligent video surveillance technology for improved traffic management, making the roads safer and more efficient for every user, while also reducing emissions. Perceptive intersections Relying on intelligent video analytics, traffic video cameras identify traffic build ups at intersections by counting numbers of vehicles crossing an intersection and detecting their speed, while also counting the number of vehicles queueing in real-time. Aggregated data informs the system when to switch traffic lights to red or green. Intelligent optimisation for traffic signals ensures more effective traffic flow.Aggregated data informs the system when to switch traffic lights to red or green The benefits? Improved safety on the roadways; intersection reconstruction can be avoided; drivers can be advised about the speed of their route, forecasted by traffic signals; reduced wait times and stress for commuters; reduction of harmful emissions; and positive impact on public satisfaction. Road safety Traffic incidents can be disastrous, not merely for causing congestion on the roads but sometimes far worse – resulting in injuries and even fatalities. These incidents have many causes, not the least of which is drivers willfully violating traffic laws. Video technology can aid in detecting all kinds of events – for example, illegal parking, running a red light, wrong-way driving, speeding, and making illegal U-turns can all be detected by smart camera technology. By using deep learning technology, cameras can recognise these events and traffic authorities can be immediately notified and take necessary actions even before traffic incidents occur. Scenarios include stopping a driver who is occupying an emergency lane, or notifying a driver who parked their car illegally. Furthermore, ticketing systems can be incorporated to further regulate driving behaviors. Benefits here include incident prevention, better driver performance, and increased safety on the roads and streets, to name just a few. Scenarios include stopping a driver who is occupying an emergency lane, or notifying a driver who parked their car illegally Public information Sharing information is key to keeping city drivers and travelers informed. Intelligent communication about warnings and updates helps everyone save time, avoid frustration, and simplify everyday mobility. This can be done via traffic guidance screens displayed at highly visible locationsThis can be done via traffic guidance screens displayed at highly visible locations, such as congested areas, transportation hubs, shopping malls, and city plazas – or even at your fingertips on your favorite mobile apps! Traffic video cameras generate real-time data of traffic flow and incidents, sending it to a central platform to further fuse with data from third-party systems such as radar and GPS systems. They also disseminate traffic information, including traffic status, warning and advisory notices, as well as parking status.  The benefits are improved public awareness of traffic information, improved travel convenience, overall enhancement of mobility in the city, and more. The Hikvision practice Hikvision has accumulated sophisticated experience in traffic management both at home and abroad. Product lines offer versatile solutions to resolve multitudes of problems in urban traffic management, traffic incident management, highway management, and more. Going deeper, it’s essential to note that efficient signal control management is dependent on the quality of traffic data, system algorithms, and the hardware devices in use; it is also closely related to the mobile environment, such as road conditions, historical traffic conditions, and urban infrastructure. Because of this, no single solution solves traffic congestion everywhere. Hikvision believes that only by working closely with city authorities, public safety organisations, consultants, even academia and other relevant stakeholders, can applications and operational processes be developed to achieve the best possible outcomes. The possibilities for traffic video data are endless, especially now that it can employ artificial intelligence for advanced functionality. Harnessing its power will make all the difference, but the ultimate goal remains the same: safe and smooth traffic, smart mobility, and improved quality of human life.

What impact are data analytics having on security?
What impact are data analytics having on security?

We live in an era of Big Data. Surrounded by a flood of information, more companies are looking for ways to analyse that information (data) and systematically extract information that can help them operate more efficiently and profitably. The data obsession has extended to the physical security industry, too, where large amounts of data have historically been a little-used byproduct of our access control and even video systems. But the picture is changing. We asked this week's Expert Panel Roundtable: What impact are data analytics having on the security market?

Embracing digital transformation in the security industry
Embracing digital transformation in the security industry

Many industries are, to a greater or lesser extent, in the throes of digital transformation. As with any change programme, digital transformation efforts often under-perform against expectations. Yet, the number of digital transformation programmes continue to increase, as commercial pressures intensify. As security professionals we need to embrace our role in digital transformation, as security is everybody’s business. For all those people weary of hearing about digital transformation and believe it’s a business fad, consider your own behaviours. If you use a smartphone to search, find, order, buy, message, watch, learn, play, bank, pay, enter, exit, navigate, communicate and more then you are part of the reason that digital transformation is a commercial necessity. The way we live our lives has changed significantly over the past twenty years and this needs to be reflected into how we rethink the way we do business. Digital transformation is about more than technology, it allows people to solve their traditional problems in new and better ways than before. Better can mean faster, at lower cost, using fewer resources, easier to maintain, more compliant and/or easier to report insights. IoT, criminal activity and security  The number of internet connected devices worldwide is increasing at an exponential rate; by the end of 2025 there are expected to be 75.44 billion. Internet of Things (IoT) means digital transformation converges physical and digital for security professionals. Criminals use smarter digital tools such as malware, drones, key cloners, signal readers and more, which impact both physical and cybersecurity. To counter this, digital transformation provides security professionals with access As security professionals we need to embrace our role in digital transformation, as security is everybody’s businessto valuable actionable insights to identify and deter threats to people and assets. All transformation starts with an idea generated by people and ends with people experiencing the output. Therefore, digital transformation starts and ends with people. To ensure a solid foundation to any digital transformation agenda, people need to have a clear purpose to engage. This is where security leaders can inspire their colleagues with a laudable purpose of embracing disruption at the same time as focusing on safeguarding people and assets. Non-security colleagues should understand that security risks are advancing at a faster pace than enterprises can adapt. As a security leader, you are advocating a movement where your colleagues adopt relevant enterprise security risk management practices in their daily thinking and working. The message is clear that digital transformation presents abundant opportunities and these need to be evaluated alongside the proliferating security threats that can become a business continuity failure. Security professionals and digital influence  The number of internet connected devices worldwide is increasing at an exponential rate; by the end of 2025 there are expected to be 75.44 billionSecurity professionals can influence digital transformation success by translating an enterprise’s strategy into secure operational reality. The security narrative should emphasise the people side of digital transformation and how technology can act as an enabler of a safe and secure experience, both for employees and customers. Operationally, digital transformation is about agility, adaptability and navigating uncertainty. Old ways of thinking and working will be blockers to transformation, so security leaders ought to identify the rapid enablers of a ‘secure’ digital transformation. Better people, processes and overall technology People generally don’t want more in their lives, they want better. Better people. Better data. Better technology. Better processes. Digital transformation creates significant ‘better’ benefits for security: For example, connected (IoT) sensors, video analytics at the edge and machine learning identify threats faster; workflow technologies and automation detect, investigate and remediate routine responses; cloud provides many benefits such as agility, scale and mobility; and, smartphones/digital devices provide real-time communication and collaboration. Tackling all the ‘better’ needs within a security approach is necessary – focusing on the prioritised commercial needs first. Think about how to drive radical simplification into digital transformation agendas to ensure complexity doesn’t create too many unmanageable risks. Designing enterprise security risk management into the business operating model will facilitate colleagues to be empowered for safe and secure change. Communicating security successes and breaches with commercial impact insights in a timely and concise manner across the enterprise will prove the value of active security engagement throughout digital transformation programmes. Transforming the world Digital technology is transforming the world around us, in a way that impacts every area of security. Security professionals are now businesspeople and technologists, in addition to their traditional security remits. Embracing this impacts security recruitment, training and employee engagement, within the security team and with non-security colleagues. Without a doubt, security professionals are integral to digital transformation programmes.