BIOMETRIC INNOVATIONS DURING COVID-19

REGARDLESS THE UNEXPECTED OUTCOMES IN VARIOUS DOMAINS OF OUR EVERYDAY LIFE, COVID19 MANAGED TO INTRODUCE NOT ONLY A DIGITAL-FRIENDLY LIFESTYLE, BUT ALSO IMPORTANT BIOMETRIC SOLUTIONS, BRINGING THE FUTURE TECHNOLOGY TO THE PRESENT WITHOUT FURTHER DELAY.

The global pandemic crisis of 2020 has successfully brought a high percentage of individuals closer to digitalization, decreasing the digitalization gap between wealthy and weaker countries. In the meantime, aiming to fight the spread of Covid19, scientists, start-ups and IT companies have been developing and have already released biometric solutions, which are able to change our everyday habits even after the end of the pandemic.

Starting from a solution already in use since a long time ago, the contactless payment has been the most preferred transaction method in 2020. Supporting this practice, various colossus companies developed biometrics payment applications. Apple Pay enables the secure and encrypted storage of a credit card to the iPhone’s Wallet app, while a Touch ID sensor or Face ID verification is required. Samsung Pay, based on tokenization, presents similar functionalities and identification tools, while Google Pay seems to be equally secure, without asking for biometrics identification though. Regarding the use of traditional credit cards, BNP Paribas, is introducing fingerprint-enabled cards. From a business approach, the Panasonic Corporation of North America collaborates with PopID and PopPay to develop an ordering and payment platform for the U.S. market.

Contactless identification solutions are also widely developed. Nowadays, eIDs, ePassports and eResidence Permits can be read with the use of contactless biometrics applications such as Visogo, developed by INCERT. Additionally, “4 Finger TouchlessID”, reminding of old-fashioned identification methods, is able to identify someone only by capturing a photo of the individuals’ fingerprints. Apple also made a step forward in biometrics, by announcing that Safari is going to enable logins via Face ID or Touch ID. From a business perspective, HID Global announced a contactless identification solution for workplaces, where the employees’ will be able to pay and gain physical or digital access, via their smart watch, watchband and ring. On the other hand, face recognition is highly developed, with platforms such as FaceMe identifying not only people wearing mask, but also if the mask is worn properly. Airports, being affected by pandemic and travel restrictions, suggest various safety measures such as self-service touchless kiosks, iris and facial recognition for passengers going through immigration and contactless elevators.

Contactless identification solutions are also widely developed. Nowadays, eIDs, ePassports and eResidence Permits can be read with the use of contactless biometrics applications such as Visogo, developed by INCERT. Additionally, “4 Finger TouchlessID”, reminding of old-fashioned identification methods, is able to identify someone only by capturing a photo of the individuals’ fingerprints. Apple also made a step forward in biometrics, by announcing that Safari is going to enable logins via Face ID or Touch ID. From a business perspective, HID Global announced a contactless identification solution for workplaces, where the employees’ will be able to pay and gain physical or digital access, via their smart watch, watchband and ring. On the other hand, face recognition is highly developed, with platforms such as FaceMe identifying not only people wearing mask, but also if the mask is worn properly. Airports, being affected by pandemic and travel restrictions, suggest various safety measures such as self-service touchless kiosks, iris and facial recognition for passengers going through immigration and contactless elevators.

Health passports seem to be a legit solution to help people return to their normal interactions. For this purpose, Pangea introduced an “immunity passport”, a smart card with a photo, a digital signature, a chip and an hologram, giving information on the beholder’s Covid19 profile. Additionally, the Anderson University is currently using a mobile screening application giving a temperature check and a Covid19 symptoms checklist to students and staff. In case of illness, it redirects the individual and its contacts to the campus health center.

As far as the hospitals are concerned, contactless scanners (biometrics or regular ones) are highly recommended for frontline health care administrators, while NHS England offers a digital ID application for the identification of its employees. Regarding the prediction and cure of the illness, many biometrics devices have been developed. For example, the Cognixion’s Speakprose Pro+ app lets intubated patients to share information about their condition only by scanning their eyes, while electronic medical records can be automatically updated via IoT monitoring devices.

Last but not least, going back to reality equals often with physical attendance to shops and restaurants. To prevent a possible infection, businesses are often equipped with temperature screening systems and biometrics devices counting the number of people entering their premises, and even identifying the ones who don’t wear masks.

As far as we can see, the aforementioned solutions can support not only the gradual decrease of Covid19 risks around us, but they can also improve many aspects of our everyday life. Regardless the controversial aspect of data collection and processing, we have to remain pragmatic and focus on what we can gain from it. In the digital society we live in, digital solutions are required, with respect to human integrity and high confidentiality.

You can find the French version of the article, as published in Paperjam on 04.12.2020, here.