COMMENTARY by Jonathan Newell, Editor

Testing& Test Houses A SENSE OF TOUCH T

he market for fingerprint sensors is set to grow significantly, according to one Swedish manufacturer of biometric products that has just reached its 1 billion sensor delivery milestone. Apart from the company’s core market of smartphone and

banking product sensors, it is now looking at the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) as the source of its next phase of growth. IIoT security is being hotly discussed throughout the industry as

connectivity explodes along with the risk of security breaches that could bring down critical infrastructure or cause havoc in manufacturing and distribution chains. Defence industry giant, Thales, takes the subject very seriously and in

April bought security behemoth Gemalto for a shade under €5 billion. Gemalto is highly active in banking security, payment systems and biometrics and was a pioneer in two-factor authentication (2FA). Two-factor authentication represents a belt and braces approach to

security where something you know (such as a PIN or password) is backed up by something you possess (such as a card or your fingerprint). We are all told to “create a password that is long, cannot be guessed or

remembered, contains special characters and is different from all your others – oh and by the way, do not write it down anywhere.” On that basis, a maintenance engineer in an I4.0-enabled factory would have to remember an unfeasably complex password for each machine on the shop-floor. The use of 2FA and biometrics has been an attractive proposition for a

long time but the technology just hasn’t come up to scratch in an affordable way until now. The chance of accepting an unauthorised fingerprint is usually

proportional to the usability of the fingerprint reader. With the detail of a unique fingerprint being so complex, and with the devil lurking in there somewhere, it is hard to create a sensor that will capture all that detail in a process involving the placement of flexible flesh of uncertain cleanliness and stability on a reader. To combat this, reader manufacturers slacken off the detail requirements and the level of security suffers. The kind of high grade readers that solve this riddle are expensive and

being so complex, it is hard to capture ‘cheaply’ all that detail

aren’t usually used in smartphones or other high volume applications. There is no doubt that fast, accurate biometric access management has a place in the IIoT and that potential may be the impetus needed by companies like Gemalto that have the know-how and the technology at their fingertips to create a sensor that solves the security riddle at a price that’s affordable for the mass market.

With a fingerprint EDITORIAL

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June 2019 /// Testing & Test Houses /// 3

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