Biometric and contactless technologies complement each other nicely in concept, but in the real world their integration is still quite rare. But new projects and new products are beginning to change this situation and this year promises significant advancement.
In the past, both technologies presented obstacles to the merger. Early contactless chips lacked the capacity to store biometric templates and a lack of biometric standards slowed development and utilization.
As you will find in this issue of ContactlessNews, both these situations are changing. Larger capacity contactless chips are available and affordable. And at the same time, biometric templates are being developed that require less storage capacity. Standardization in the biometric field is undergoing radical advancement with many national and international standards well on their way to approval.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has completed the first phase of an in depth testing of biometric technology and contactless ISO 14443 chips. The goal is to evaluate the inclusion of the technologies on the 4 million-plus Common Access Cards. These DoD trials certainly have implications for all U.S. government issued credentials as well.
So where are we? It is clearly still very early in the game. Both biometrics and contactless chip cards are in their very early marketplace stages as standalone technologies. Merged they are truly in their infancy. However, a range of developments including DoD trails, pending passport improvements, a trend toward national identity cards in certain regions of the world, and more point toward rapid growth.
With the promise of growth comes the opportunity for profits–thus spurring company development in hardware and software. New offerings are driving demand and the cycle continues. So again we ask where are we? I guess I can only say that we are a lot closer than ever before.
Chris Corum, Editor, ContactlessNews