One technology which should be of particular interest to manufacturers in the smart home industry is biometrics. Trusted and familiar to consumers from a decade of integration into smartphones, biometric authentication can complement the new smart home trend and add real value to modern domestic security solutions.
With the rapid growth of IoT applications the way to access and secure our daily domestic lives has transformed significantly. The sophisticated solutions of today not only offer consumers state-of-the-art home security, but a range of ways to enhance daily life. Take the automation of home security, for example, enabling consumers to control their locks and alarm systems remotely and allowing access to, say, trusted neighbours or delivery drivers without needing a physical key.
With a growing range of features, smart locks are one of the most useful innovations in modern home security. Still, any device or application relying solely on PIN or password protection has room to strengthen its security. When home access is in question, any measure that can increase security is significant, and we know consumers have lingering concerns about IoT device security. Strengthening the security of the device managing access to their front door, therefore, enhances both the appeal of the smart lock, and crucially, its mass market potential.
This is where biometrics fits in, adding a trusted layer of security to device access, without compromising the convenience consumers prize. Unlike password-protected smart locks, biometric authentication uses personally identifiable information stored securely on-device (whether the lock itself or a fingerprint-secured access card) for maximum privacy. This makes biometrics both difficult to hack and near-impossible to spoof, ensuring that homes stay considerably safer than with merely password-secured, internet-enabled, or traditional key locks.
A smart connected home is, at its core, a combination of increased convenience and security – something biometrics offers on both fronts. A key barrier to consumers adopting smart home solutions are concerns about privacy and security, yet these can be assured by biometrics.
Biometric technology not only ensures that convenience doesn’t come at the cost of security, but can actively enhance convenience, too. IoT home security systems already offer consumers a range of ‘lifestyle benefits’; biometrics take these benefits one step further.
In the family home, biometric locks not only secure the house, but enable a range of personalized access controls. For example, access to potentially hazardous areas, such as medicine cabinets and kitchen drawers could be restricted to adults. Similarly, in a shared house or flat, personalized controls could give housemates greater privacy by controlling access to personal and shared areas.
Student accommodation is another interesting scenario. Typically, hundreds of students will not only share a front door, but access to the washing room, bike room, mail room, and many other community rooms. The specific combination of rooms and facilities students are permitted to access is likely to be individual to each student, creating an access control headache. Biometric locks provide a simple and convenient solution, enabling the management team to ensure only the right students have access to certain rooms and areas of the building. Likewise, students don’t have to remember endless passcodes or manage a set of keys.
Biometrics’ value to this market is increasingly recognized, with several important integrations in recent years. This includes the Halo Touch lock from Kwikset that allows residents and family members to unlock their front door with just their fingerprint.
Another notable example is the Inosmart solution, which was recently announced by Slovenian smart door manufacturer Inotherm. This adds fingerprint authentication to the door’s smart keypad, enabling users to control access with their fingerprint on the keypad itself or via a linked smartphone app. It can store up to 100 fingerprints, ensuring significant potential for personalization, as well as convenience and security.
As these integrations gain momentum, it’s clear that biometrics is here to stay in the smart home ecosystem. It doesn’t stop at the front door, either: there’s potential to add biometric authentication to numerous devices throughout the smart home itself. Smart padlocks are already available, and if we consider the opportunities to personalize, say, access to TV or game console settings too, the possibilities are endless.
As consumers continue to invest in their homes, biometrics offers a lucrative opportunity for market players to offer consumers another way to make smart homes even smarter.
Author details: Maria Pihlström, Global Marketing Manager at Fingerprints