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Part 4: Biometrics and Wearable Technology – the Inevitable Marriage?

Part 4: Biometrics and Wearable Technology – the Inevitable Marriage? [OG PARTNER]

Part Four in a four part series.

The first three installments of this series looked at the market for wearable devices and how traditional and non-traditional biometrics can be used with current and emerging wearable technology (Read earlier installments: Part 1Part 2Part 3). This final installment examines the technological and sociological barriers confronting wearable biometrics and wraps-up the discussion with five predictions regarding the future of wearable biometrics.

Advanced sensors that measure geolocation, heart rate, breathing, body temperature, brain activity, muscle tension and blood chemistry will be capable of doing far more than simply proving our identity. The can also be used to answer questions such as…

  • Are you lying?
  • Are you under duress?
  • Are you the parent of this child?
  • Have you been smoking?
  • Are you under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
  • Have you left the house since 11pm last night?
  • Have you visited Africa or South America in last ten days?

While this may be seen as a real benefit to some, others will undoubtedly view this as an unacceptable invasion of personal privacy.

Barriers facing the widespread adoption of biometrics in wearables

Besides being costly and admittedly geeky, wearable technology faces a number of barriers to widespread adoption.

Not the least of which is Privacy. Wearables allow a lot of biometric, audio and video data to be recorded – and ownership and ethical use of personal data collected by wearables is a complex area. The data captured by wearables may not only be used by the wearable vendor but also sold to other companies. And not all of the wearable technologies will have latest security functionality to protect the stored information against security breaches.

In our survey of biometrics professionals at the Biometrics Institute Asia Pacific Conference1 privacy concerns regarding access to biometric information stored on the cloud was cited as the most significant roadblock to incorporating biometrics into wearable technology (79%). Whereas technology, format and cost were not generally viewed as impediments.

Some wearables may be used to access or store sensitive company-related data. Wearables that are used in business facilities are yet another BYOD technology. Companies may not be aware what information employee owned wearables carry, thereby exposing the company to security risks.

Wearables also face other barriers to adoption, such as small screens/controls that hinder usability, body contact that some will find uncomfortable, short battery life, immature technology/applications and more.

When biometrics are added to wearable technology, privacy and personal information security becomes an even greater concern. And as described earlier, the biophysical data collected by biosensors can provide a very detailed and personal summary of a person’s activity, physical state and even emotional state. So the concepts of privacy and acceptable use are more important than ever.

Although the physical size limitations of wearable devices restricts the type of biometrics that can be used and the ease with which they can be used, new biometric modalities and sensor technology may overcome these limitations. But new and heretofore unproven technology always faces challenges due to immature technology and public misperceptions.

So what should we expect in the future for biometrics in wearable technology? It will likely be far different from what we may imagine, but here are my top five predictions for your consideration:

  1. Wearable biometrics will be characterized by lots of hype and failures over the next five years. No one will make money on wearable biometrics, but we will start to see the first generation of practical applications.
  2. Over the next five years, wearable biometrics will be restricted largely to traditional modalities (e.g., facial recognition) built into worn accessories (e.g., body worn cameras) and used primarily in applications like law enforcement and border security.
  3. Wearable biometrics will be widely accepted in the same way biometrics are generally accepted and used on smart phones today. There will always be a few vocal detractors, but the rapid pace of technology development and the transformational benefits offered mean that widespread adoption of wearable biometrics isn’t a question of “if”, but “when”.
  4. Intensive medical research in the area of biosensors and nanosensors will serve as the primary catalyst for a plethora of “non-traditional” biometric technologies – such as bioelectrical identification.
  5. Legislation governing privacy and acceptable use of wearable biometrics will increasingly lag behind the introduction of new technologies. This will exacerbate the problem of inconsistent laws in different jurisdictions. Apolitical organisations like the Biometrics Institute will play an increasingly important role in defining global standards and guidelines for wearable biometrics.

1Unisys surveyed 54 biometric professionals at the Biometrics Institute Asia Pacific Conference, 24-26 May 2016

First published at http://blogs.unisys.com/onpoint/part-4-biometrics-and-wearable-technology-the-inevitable-marriage/

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Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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As a Titanium Black Partner of Dell Technologies, CTC Global Singapore boasts unparalleled access to resources.

Established in 1972, we bring 52 years of experience to the table, solidifying our position as a leading IT solutions provider in Singapore. With over 300 qualified IT professionals, we are dedicated to delivering integrated solutions that empower your organization in key areas such as Automation & AI, Cyber Security, App Modernization & Data Analytics, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Renowned for our consulting expertise and delivering expert IT solutions, CTC Global Singapore has become the preferred IT outsourcing partner for businesses across Singapore.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

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SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.