Biometrics: the smartphone wave is reshuffling the cards…

Sensors for Biometry and Recognition 2016 report – Yole Développement – November 2016


  • Fingerprint technology impressively dominates the market - but changes are expected.
  • The biometric hardware sensor market is still growing impressively, particularly thanks to the consumer business.
  • Are we witnessing disruption in the biometric market?

LYON, France – December 12, 2016: The evolution of the smartphone industry since ten years offers to biometric technologies a huge opportunity to install sensors on each human. Today biometrics technologies are rapidly integrated and evolve quickly.
Yole Développement (Yole), the “More than Moore” market research and strategy consulting company confirms, consumer sector, especially smartphone applications are driving the biometrics development: consumer applications are today representing 66% of the total hardware biometric market, against only 2% in 2010. 2021 is showing the same trend with 10% CAGR from 2016 to 2021.
Sensors for Biometry & Recognition 2016 report is the 1st edition dedicated to the physiological biometrics sensors used for biometrics and recognition applications and published by Yole’s MEMS & Sensors team. This analysis combines the most valuable Yole’s knowledge related to biometric technologies and markets, including eye, face, finger, hand, voice and more.

The biometry & recognition report proposes detailed market figures for each market segment: both traditional industries, industrial and homeland/security as well as consumer, the newborn sector. Market metrics are also provided for each sensor: each application has been evaluated according to the performance and related market size. Undoubtedly biometrics will be so the “place to be” during the next five year. Yole has been tracking closely the latest technical innovations and business opportunities in this field for a while. Its analysts offers you today an overview of the biometric hardware market.

Consumer products are showing the highest adoption rate ever and are the most widespread biometric devices. And this growth is not over. Indeed, according to Yole, biometric solutions’ growth will be supported by a 6.4% CAGR of smartphones units between 2015 and 2021 (1). Indeed market figures are impressive: 525 million units of fingerprints sensors were sold in 2015.
“At Yole we expect a huge increase up to 1,500 million units by 2021,” asserts Guillaume Girardin, Technology & Market Analyst at Yole. “By 2021, fingerprint sensing won’t be the unique biometric solution embedded in a smartphone, the advent of multimodal recognition is on the verge to conquer the consumer market”.

Without doubt, this market evolution will strengthen the impact of the biometry within the consumer industry.

Fingerprint for unlocking and mobile payment have become the biggest biometric market value. Fingerprint sensing is today the most common biometric technology currently used, by far. At Yole, analysts estimate that the annual revenues generated by fingerprint-based solutions, all markets combined, reach currently US$ 4,1 billion, representing 91% of the hardware market value. Fingerprint sensing dominates other biometric technologies because it meets almost all the requirements of a perfect biometric recognition technology. Robust, stable and repeatable, time-invariant, difficult to proof are the main characteristic of such solution.

However, since many years, eye-based and face-based recognition technologies are gaining momentum, especially in the homeland and security market, therefore technologies breakdown is much more equilibrated. Homeland and security market is showing a rough 75% of fingerprint-based solution, and more than 16% of eye and face-based technologies (combined). Some industrial products like time attendance systems are already using biometrics (single or multimodal) solutions and will continue to grow, driving by a strong Asian market pull. Regarding the homeland and security market, Yole’s analysts mention the relative good growth of fingerprint scanners, the emergence of multimodal solution for airport security and flow control.
Back to the consumer market, we also see a diffusion of biometric technologies within the IoT market, for example, fingerprint sensors and microphones to authorize the access to a location or confidential information. Moreover current voice assistant developed and popularized by either Amazon or Google are starting to use voice recognition modules to allow only registered person to interact with the system.
“Current performances are not sufficient to perform a good recognition of the owner but future sensors, especially with high SNR , beam-forming and always-on behavior will drive the market in a near future”, explains Guillaume Girardin.
In the future, Yole also identified potential emerging applications within the building or automotive sector to detect people or pilot ID and status thanks to flexible fingerprint sensors that could be wrap around the doorknob or the steering wheel. Globally, Yole see a diversification of the biometric solutions and business opportunities, either with fingerprint, face, iris and voice recognition techniques.

Biometric companies will clearly take benefits of these impressive business opportunities to develop their activities. Regarding the homeland and security market, China, Africa, India and South America are the new goldmines of the biometric players, while consumer and industrial markets are still the favorite markets to sell large volumes of devices…

A detailed description of the Biometrics & Recognition report as well as the other MEMS & Sensors reports Yole is available on, MEMS reports section.

CAGR: Compound Annual Growth Rate
SNR: Signal-to-Noise Ratio

(1) Sensors for Cellphones and Tablets 2016 report, Yole Développement, June 2016

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