Smartphone data security is growing in importance as more people are storing and accessing personal, business and financial data on their devices. Alphanumeric passwords are the common method of authentication, but can be difficult to enter accurately while on the move.
Furthermore, the small screen size on smartphones -- relative to that of a desktop or notebook computer -- means that password input is more difficult, while an accidental keystroke can increase the user frustration.
That said, biometric authentication is able to move beyond fingerprint scans and include a range of identifiers, from facial recognition to voiceprints, according to the latest worldwide market study by Juniper Research.
Biometric Technology Market Development
These methods will become part of many more consumer lives, installed on an estimated 190 million mobile devices in 2016 -- including smartphones and wearables -- before exceeding 600 million devices by 2021.
The new research found that demand from businesses for methods that rely less on hardware will raise the profile of newer biometrics over the next 5 years -- in particular, voiceprints and facial recognition technologies.
These advanced technologies are easier to deploy than fingerprinting, as they do not require dedicated hardware. They introduce biometric security to a whole new audience in markets with lower-tier smartphones.
With many different biometric technologies now emerging for consumer use, Juniper predicts that multiple biometric apps will become part of consumer mobile experience in the near future.
The market study also found that use cases for biometrics will shift from identification to verification, thanks to the need for increased security of the biometric itself.
In these cases the biometric is stored and approved on-device and an affirmation sent to a service, rather than the biometric being transmitted and compared to a remotely held record.
This is because biometrics cannot be changed like passwords, and so if they are compromised, they are unusable for life.
Outlook for Biometric Technology Adoption
"While biometrics offer an increased amount of security and convenience, they need higher levels of protection," said James Moar, senior analyst at Juniper Research.
According to the Juniper assessment, establishing best practices for storage and transmission of newer biometrics will be key to ensuring both user control over and the security of the most personal stored data.