Biometrics use to accelerate in 2006

Unisys says the adoption of biometric technology is likely to rise after its use in passports has been proven.

Vivian Yeo Special to CNET News
2 min read
Electronic passports have driven technological improvements in biometrics and will pave the way for greater commercial use of it in 2006, IT services company Unisys predicted.

"Traveler security is driving the adoption of biometrics much faster than commercial pressures would have," Terry Hartmann, director of secure identification and biometrics at Unisys, said in a statement.

"Now that the concept has been proven in a public context, this will pave the way for the adoption of biometrics by the commercial sector," Hartmann added. "Other government departments that need to verify identity, such as drivers' licenses and welfare, will also consider the technology initially, after which the private sector will be prompted to investigate how it can solve existing problems, such as building access control, via the use of biometrics."

According to Unisys, Australia last October was one of the first nations in the world to introduce biometric e-passports, which are in accordance to standards laid out by the International Civil Aviation.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced last month that it would be conducting e-passport tests at the San Francisco International Airport, Singapore's Changi Airport and Sydney Airport in Australia until April, for the purpose of gathering information to help countries develop electronic passports.

The United States had originally set an October 2005 deadline for requiring biometric passports for visitors without visas, but later extended it until October 2006.

For national identity and security, Asia will lead the world in using biometrics, Unisys said in the statement. Countries such as Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and Thailand are evaluating, planning, piloting or deploying smart cards with biometric features for use as national identity verification.

Security requirements by airports have driven improvements in biometric technology, Unisys noted. For example, the use of 3D in facial recognition technology could identify an individual with greater accuracy as it captures more than just the frontal view of the person. At the same time, it has the flexibility to be converted to a two-dimensional image for comparison with the image stored in the e-passport.

Vivian Yeo of ZDNet Asia reported from Singapore.