In my role at DHS S&T I’ve had a unique opportunity to observe the evolution of biometric technologies over the last several years. In 2015, the Apex AEER program tested numerous concepts of operation that combined biometric technologies and operational processes. The result? With few exceptions, biometric collection and matching systems perform reasonably well, but what sets some operational concepts apart from others – what really drives or inhibits overall system performance, regardless of device or modality – is not usually the technology itself, but rather the degree to which the technology can be seamlessly integrated into trusted, familiar, intuitive, and user-friendly processes.
In 2016 and beyond, a renewed focus on applying Human Systems Engineering to integrate biometrics into operations will be critical to win over users and front-line operators.
The ability to inform, manage, and meet their expectations will be critical to keep them. As with any technology, growing adoption rates will also increase the incentive for malignant actors to undermine such systems. To meet users’ expectations, a parallel industry-wide focus on education, data privacy, data governance, and security must accompany technical advances, particularly in the mobile arena.
Biometrics may or may not revolutionize user experience in different operations, but if solution providers work candidly with system operators and users to make the experience reliably easier and less stressful, while protecting user information, we should reasonably expect the public to increasingly accept the value of biometrics in everyday life, much as they already have with some smart phones.