Comparison of biometric technologies

Automated fingerprint identification systems

Strengths: Proven use with large-scale databases, one-to-many matches.

Limitations: May prove challenging to integrate with existing criminal justice information systems.

R&D areas: Vendors continue to refine print-matching algorithms.

Deployment trends: Some customers are adding palmprint capabilities.

Revenue in 2002 : $323 milion

Projected revenue in 2007: $1.25 billion


Strengths: Low cost, convenient size of devices.

Limitations: Products less accurate than high-end automated fingerprint identification systems (AFIS).

R&D areas: Vendors creating smaller, silicon-based sensors.

Deployment trends: Technology headed for notebooks, personal digital assistants, smart cards.

Revenue in 2002 : $144.2 million

Projected revenue in 2007: $1.23 billion

Facial recognition

Strengths: Large database of imagery to draw on.

Limitations: Lower accuracy when images are captured outdoors.

R&D areas: Researchers aim to boost long-range identification capabilities.

Deployment trends: Used in data mining and casino surveillance.

Revenue in 2002 : $34.4 million

Projected revenue in 2007: $429.1 million

Hand geometry

Strengths: Widely deployed and time-tested (used since 1980s).

Limitations: Not applicable for one-to-many searches.

R&D areas: Technology is stable compared to others.

Deployment trends: Often used for physical access control.

Revenue in 2002: $27.7 million

Projected revenue in 2007: $97.4 million

Iris recognition

Strengths: Most accurate biometric technology.

Limitations: Untested in AFIS-like, one-to-many searches.

R&D areas: Long-range ID potential.

Deployment trends: Often used in identity verification for access control.

Revenue in 2002: $16.2 million

Projected revenue in 2007: $210.2 million

Voiceprint authentication

Strengths: User can be authenticated from remote location.

Limitations: User health (colds, etc.) may hinder correct ID.

R&D areas: Goals include improved screening of background noise.

Deployment trends: Social Security Administration, State Department exploring online, telecommunications access control.

Revenue in 2002: $12.2 million

Projected revenue in 2007: $142.1 million


  • Cybersecurity
    Boy looks under voting booth at Ventura Polling Station for California primary Ventura County, California. Joseph Sohm /

    FBI breach notice rules lauded by states, but some want more

    A recent policy change by the FBI would notify states when their local election systems are hacked, but some state officials and lawmakers want the feds to inform a broader range of stakeholders in the election ecosystem.

  • paths (cybrain/

    Does strategic planning help organizations?

    Steve Kelman notes growing support for strategic planning efforts -- and the steps agencies take to keep those plans relevant.

Stay Connected


Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.