Real Time Communications Featured Article

New Fingerprint Tech Unlocks the Internet of Things

August 11, 2015

To see what the future looks like, you need look no further than the latest “Mission Impossible” movie. The featured BMW muscle car unlocks by placing a palm flat against the driver side window, with the fingerprints immediate recognized. Hollywood usually outpaces reality by a couple of years, but Sonavation has announced it has already put its ultrasound biometric fingerprint authentication tech to work under Corning’s Gorilla Glass.  Implications are huge for the Internet of Things.

Touch screens can be found in everything from the cellphone in your pocket to the latest tablets and all-in-one computers, but there’s never been a good method – until Sonavation – to provide an affordable and seamless integration of fingerprint recognition.  Early solution and existing scanner solutions use dedicated hardware and positioning in the device, with Apple’s Touch ID among the most prominent on the market. Apple’s Touch ID uses a piece of laser cut sapphire – not exactly cheap – to protect the dedicated scanner in its iPhones and iPads.  Fingerprint recognition can be foiled by dirt or smudges on the surface if it isn’t clean enough.

Sonavation’s breakthrough bonds an ultrasound biometric sensor able to work with Corning Gorilla Glass.  Since Gorilla Glass is used by more than 40 major brands and been deployed on nearly 4 billion devices, everyone is already using it and doesn’t add the expense of dealing with sapphire.  Manufacturers can integrate a Sonavation biometric sensor solution directly on the Gorilla Glass surface without having to use different hardware or having cut the glass to make a “window” for a scanning chip, while ultrasound enables the creation of a 3D print “Image” even through dirt, dust and oil that might be on the user’s skin.

While the first applications for Sonavation will (obviously) be on mobile and other touch-screen computing devices, there’s a wide world of other uses where access and “unlocking” devices are important.

"The potential of this breakthrough means to unlock devices, doors, applications, services and more using the human fingerprint for the ultimate in security is limitless," said Sultan Meghji, expert and pioneer in biometrics and security, and member of Sonavation's newly established Strategic Advisory Board. "While it is well known that the Internet of everything will drive tremendous value and improve millions of lives over the next decade, having this security solution will also unlock solutions that have previously been held back due complexity and concerns associated with access and identity. We're talking with dozens of leaders in the IoT space over the next few months, as well as the natural market for this - device manufacturers and communications service providers who understand the value of this in the real time communications space."

Sultan Meghji

Access is one obvious area.  Multi-factor – more than one item – authentication is becoming a necessity with the increasing sophistication of bad actors.  Affordable fingerprint recognition in combination with card key access provides enhances security for controlled spaces, be it a data center space, child care facility, or simply unlocking the door on your house when you get home.  A tablet, instead of an expensive proprietary solution, becomes a new access portal.  If fingerprints aren’t on the access list, the tablet can fire up an RTC video session to establish and document who is at the door and wants in.

Fingerprint biometrics might be the next thing for Airbnb and other hospitality firms.  Access to a rental property or hotel room won’t even require a card key, just a free finger to put on the door scanner. 

The no-key society is easily extended to vehicles, both ones you might own and those you rent.  First generation solutions won’t be as cool as the BMW driver side window solution portrayed in “Mission Impossible,” but it isn’t hard to imagine using a fingerprint scan to start the car with the only need for a “key” would be for valet parking use.

It’s also not difficult to imagine next-generation credit card readers and ATMs – already touchscreen devices – incorporating a fingerprint sensor for multi-factor authentication when it comes to paying for things and getting cash out of the bank.

Affordable biometric fingerprint authentication will open the door to new real time services with a higher, more convenient level of security than current schemes of passcodes, passwords, and access cards.  Any service requiring a log in and/or a code can now add a fingerprint scan for new and faster ways of access.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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