Biometric Authentication Market Emerges

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February 17, 2005
Biometric Authentication Market Emerges
Systems and software that accurately identify and authenticate individuals based on their
fingerprints, venous patterns, iris patterns or voiceprints — also known as biometric
authentication — represent a new market with great potential in Japan. According to Yano
Research Institute, shipments in fiscal 2004 were estimated at 8.8 billion yen, up 33% from
the previous year. The figure is expected to triple to more than 27 billion yen by fiscal 2010.
Biometric authentication is highly reliable, because physical human characteristics are much
more difficult to forge than security codes, passwords, hardware keys and the like. Some
biometric authentication technologies are especially innovative, such as signature analysis
using kinetic and dynamic features, including writing force and speed.
Compared to simple authentication using passwords, biometric authentication requires highly
advanced sensors, fast processing equipment and substantial memory capacity, so the
systems are costly. This is why adoption has been limited to areas that require an extremely
high level of security, such as national defense facilities, research institutes, data centers and
financial institutions.
Moreover, biometric authentication is not without its problems. Measurements can require
much more time than conventional authentication methods, errors in measurements are
possible and certain human features naturally change over time or as the result of stress or
trauma, such as a sore throat or an injury.

Venous-pattern scanning
In view of certain problems encountered with various types of biometric authentication,
increased focus is being placed on systems that measure the patterns of veins in fingers and
palms, which are internal features unique to each individual and remain unchanged for life.
Fujitsu and Hitachi have already introduced venous-pattern recognition systems for
commercial application. Fujitsu's systems, which detect venous patterns in the palm, are
being used in ATMs. Hitachi's system senses venous patterns in the fingers. The
venous-pattern recognition method is expected to become a mainstay because of its high
precision and reliability, and because the method is unobtrusive.



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Market expected to triple by 2010
The biometric authentication market is expanding at an ever-increasing rate. The major
factors include the increasing need for personal identification due to the explosive expansion
of e-commerce and the introduction of security infrastructure by enterprises, governments and
local governments, as well as the development of new applications for biometric
authentication. In addition, data leaks from enterprises and administrative bodies have
become a growing problem, so awareness of information security has grown. Another key
factor has been the steadily improving accuracy and reliability of authentication. As a result,
people and organizations are increasingly turning to biometric systems.
Fig.1 Market Size: Biometric Authentication Products

Sources: Yano Research Institute

In 2004, leading applications (share of total shipments) for biometric systems comprised
49.7% for log-on to PCs and other systems, 36.2% for entry/exit control, 2.5% for
incorporation in vaults, ATMs, cars and others, and 11.6% for others. (Fig. 2)
Fig.2 Market Size by Application: 2004

Sources: Yano Research Institute

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By methodology, the breakdown was 68.3% for fingerprints, 14.6% for venous patterns, 3.9%
for iris patterns, 3.1% for facial features, 0.9% for signatures, 0.7% for voiceprints, 0.5% for
hand geometry and 8.0% for others (DNA, etc.). Use of fingerprints, for example, included
38.8% for log-on to PCs and other systems, 21.9% for entry/exit control, 4.3% for
incorporation in equipment and 3.2% for others (Fig. 3).
Fig.3 Market Size by Methodology: 2004

Sources: Yano Research Institute

Fingerprint authentication is currently the most advanced method and has the edge over other
technologies in terms of cost. As noted, however, authentication systems based on venous
patterns are winning favor among major financial institutions and other users.
Leading vendors, besides Fujitsu and Hitachi, include OMRON, NEC, Matsushita Electric
Industrial, Art Japan, Bionics, Secom and many others. Among foreign players, SecuGen
Japan was established by SecuGen Corporation, a Silicon Valley firm specializing in
fingerprint authentication technologies.
Fig.4.Leading Biometrics Equipment Makers
Art Japan Co,.Ltd.
Bionics Co,.Ltd. (in Japanese)
Cyber SIGN Japan Incorporated (in Japanese)
Fujitsu Ltd.
Hitachi Ltd.
Hitachi Engineering Co., Ltd. (in Japanese)
Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.
Mitsubishi Electric Corporation
NEC Corporation
NEC Infrontia Corporation
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NEC Soft, Ltd.
Oki Electric Industry Co,.Ltd.
OMRON Corporation
SECOM Co,.Ltd. (in Japanese)
SecuGen Japan, Ltd (in Japanese)
Sony Corporation
Toshiba Corporation
Sources: Yano Research Institute

New devices spur development
Thanks to the increasing reliability and convenience of biometric authentication, the demand
to replace conventional authentication systems with biometric systems has grown in markets
for entry/exit control and logging on to PCs and other systems. Biometric systems are also
being incorporated in other larger systems and equipment, something that had not been
considered until recently. For example, they are being used in the fingerprint authentication
modules of mobile phones and PDAs, and venous pattern authentication units are being used
in ATMs.
Countries mandating electronic sampling of fingerprints for passport issuance and
immigration control are also growing in number. Meanwhile, advanced mobile phones are
being equipped with credit card functions, which has led to the incorporation of biometric
authentication systems in some models. Biometric authentication is also being used for hotel
room and house keys. The medical field is developing applications for electronic medical
records management, prevention of patient mix-ups and access-control for drug stocks.
Such trends are likely to continue. Biometric authentication will become even more
indispensable when local governments begin issuing secure ID cards. Moreover, new
applications are envisioned in fields such as anti-terrorism and crime prevention.
The future for biometric authentication looks secure indeed.

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