Three technologies in particular – fingerprint scanning, iris scanning and face recognition – have benefited most from homeland security and law enforcement activities, according the Erik Michielsen, director of RFID and ubiquitous wireless at ABI Research.

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However, the field as a whole is hampered by a pervasive lack of uniform standards, an important consideration in a security effort that spans the globe.

“But,” says Michielsen, “because of the market opportunities biometrics developers and vendors have been afforded in the last three years, biometrics is now moving to broader markets based on low-cost, high volume deployments.”

ABI Research’s new study, “Biometrics & Identity Management” explains how identification and authentication accuracy are critical to identifying threats to national security, public safety, and secure business transactions. Market forecasts complement the report’s strategic market and competitive analysis.

Both silicon-based and software-based technologies will play a role. Biometric chips from Authentec for fingerprint scanners are already going into WCDMA mobile phone handsets in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Korea (Korea Telecom) and Japan (NTT DoCoMo).

The fingerprint scanning market has experienced over 300% growth in 2004, says Michielsen, and in August Authentec shipped its three millionth fingerprint sensor.

Fingerprint scanning used to secure personal property (IBM ThinkPads also lock and unlock this way) eases password problems, provides better security, and cuts down expensive helpdesk support calls. It also finds uses in access and attendance control.

At the network level, Microsoft’s upcoming Longhorn OS includes an updated biometrics suite, and other PC makers are backing the technology. All this will tend to drive down costs and spur further innovation in the consumer and corporate markets.