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Will the iPhone increase the popularity of biometrics?

Will the iPhone increase the popularity of biometrics?

Apple announced its latest smartphone last week and now that the fanfare has died down, it is apparent that one of the major upgrades the 5S brings with it is the use of a biometric fingerprint scanner to heighten the security of the phone.

The sensor is protected by sapphire crystal, which is one of the clearest and hardest materials available to the smartphone manufacturer. It allows the image of the fingerprint to be focused onto the sensor and the unique scan will be used to unlock the phone and to make purchases from iTunes on the device.

Biometrics is a security technology that has been expected to go mainstream for some time now. Apple purchased a mobile security company that had developed fingerprint sensor chips in July 2012 and many tech experts believed that Apple would introduce a fingerprint scanner with the release of the iPhone 5 in September 2012. However, it may be good news for the security systems industry that the company did not rush the process.

If the fingerprint scanner was released and did not function particularly well, it may have put off consumers from seeking out what can be a very powerful security tool.

Access control systems are still largely used in conjunction with key cards or personal identification numbers, but Apple's jump to biometrics could change that. 

If the fingerprint scanner becomes a favourite feature of the latest iPhone, people will could be more familiar and trusting of technology that has so far been fairly specialised. A viable and extremely high-profile everyday biometric solution could make companies more inclined to use biometrics in security, knowing that their staff are comfortable with it.

Mark Lockie, editor of Planet Biometrics, told the BBC that "the industry has been waiting for a moment like this." 

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