Biometric technology covers finger, hand, face, eye, voice and even vein scans, which can be used across a variety of security applications such as industrial, homeland/security, consumer, and healthcare. However, consumer electronics, particularly smartphones, is driving biometrics development with fingerprint sensing leading the way, according to Yole Développement (Yole). The consumer market for biometrics is estimated at $2.9 billion in 2016.
Consumer applications represent 66 percent of the total hardware biometric market compared to only two percent in 2010, according to Yole. Analysts expect continued good growth over the next five years, forecasting a 10.4 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the forecast period of 2016 to 2021.
The Sensors for Biometry & Recognition 2016 report also finds that consumer applications have the highest adoption rate with the most biometric devices. Contributing to biometric growth is a 6.4 percent CAGR of smartphone units between 2015 to 2021, said Yole.
For fingerprint sensors this translates into 525 million units sold in 2015. Yole expects more than 700 million consumer fingerprint sensors to ship this year, growing to 1,500 million units by 2021. Part of the growth is attributed to the use of fingerprint sensors for unlocking and mobile payments.
Annual revenue for all fingerprint-based applications is estimated at $4.1 billion, which accounts for 91 percent of the hardware market. Revenue from other biometric technologies, primarily iris and face recognition, is estimated at $250 million.
“At Yole we expect a huge increase up to 1,500 million units by 2021,” said Guillaume Girardin, Technology & Market Analyst at Yole, in a statement. “By 2021, fingerprint sensing won’t be the unique biometric solution embedded in a smartphone, the advent of multimodal recognition is on the verge to conquer the consumer market.”
“Fingerprint sensing dominates other biometric technologies because it meets almost all the requirements of a perfect biometric recognition technology. Robust, stable and repeatable, time-invariant, difficult to proof are the main characteristic of such solution,” according to the report.
The performance of other technologies “hasn’t yet reached the requirements with regards to cost, reliability, false rejection rate and false acceptance rate to significantly penetrate either the consumer, industrial or homeland/security markets,” according to Yole.
However, eye-based and face-based recognition technologies are gaining momentum, especially in the homeland and security market, said Yole. Usage in this market is about 75% for fingerprint-based solutions, and more than 16 percent of eye and face-based technologies. Yole believes that China, Africa, India and South America are the new goldmines for biometric players in the homeland/security market.
Analysts also report a diffusion of biometric technologies in the consumer market, including the Internet of things (IoT), which use fingerprint sensors and microphones to authorize access to a location or confidential information. In addition, voice assistant applications, like those used by Amazon or Google, are starting to use voice recognition modules to allow only a registered person to interact with the system, said Yole.
“Current performances are not sufficient to perform a good recognition of the owner but future sensors, especially with high SNR [signal-to-noise ratio], beam-forming and always-on behavior will drive the market in a near future,” said Girardin.
Other potential applications cited in the report include emerging applications within the building or automotive sector to detect people or pilot ID and status thanks to flexible fingerprint sensors that could wrap around the doorknob or the steering wheel.
However, consumer and industrial markets remain the front runners to sell large volumes of devices. Yole estimates the industrial and homeland security markets have increased from $1.1 billion to $1.5 billion in 2016 and those markets will grow at 4 percent and 3.2 percent CAGRs, respectively.