Research: Biometrics growing beyond government domain

Biometrics isn't solely the purvey of governments and law enforcement agencies, although it long existed as a tool for matching criminals based on fingerprints. Now, researchers at ABI Research in London, find that biometric technology -- especially fingerprints -- is finding greater and greater commercial success in the areas of general security, especially for consumer devices. Of note, the researchers said adoption was strong for laptops and indicated that mobile phones and portable storage drives would see an uptick of biometric usage for user-authenticated access.

In fact, this expansion means the biometrics industry should see overall spending to hit $7.3 billion by 2013. That's up from about $3 billion this year, said ABI Research.

But although this consumer market expansion will aid biometrics, the researchers said that traditional government and law enforcement spending on biometrics will remain the dominant source of that spending through at least 2013.

ABI Principal Research Analyst Jonathan Collins said the growth from $3 billion to over $7 billion is also affected by the great variety of biometrics available today.

"The wide variety of biometrics technologies available including face, fingerprint, iris, hand and speech recognition systems, as well as their differing characteristics, has created opportunities for vendors and systems integrators to help customers select the correct biometric measurement or combination of measurements for any application," said Collins.

The research firm is releasing a report titled "Biometrics" on this growth; the reports are typically purchased by industry vendors seeking to understand changing market conditions.