Bobby Varma Apr 1, 2021 12:42:15 PM 10 min read

Consider capabilities of biometrics more broadly

When Princeton Identity was spun out of SRI International in 2016, President and CEO Bobby Varma along with a core group of engineers moved over to the new company to put its breadth of biometric successes and patents into use.

Central to the company’s vision, Varma tells Biometric Update in an interview, was the potential for biometrics to enhance daily life beyond the security applications the technology had traditionally been associated with. Delivering the same identity integrity that the team delivered to government facilities to its partnership with Samsung in a reliable and inexpensive solution is why the tech giant selected PI’s technology to deploy in 90 million smartphones, Varma points out.

The company has continued to add to its stock of patents, and develop new products, like the Access200, to bring its cutting-edge technology to customers.

“Biometrics has evolved from providing just security, to now providing a complete customer experience,” Varma says. “We’ve been focused on that for the past fifteen years, it’s part of our legacy. Our patents have revolved around that vision, around effortless identification.”

This approach allows system users to be authenticated in the normal flow of whatever they are doing, whether entering a building or interacting with an interface.

The company has worked on making “easily-integrated products, without losing the integrity of our technology, which is all about convenience and ease of use,” Varma explains.

A focus on solutions

While Princeton Identity’s technology roots are in the iris recognition modality, the company’s mission is to use the power of advanced biometric technology to meet customer needs. The company develops solutions, therefore, based on those needs and the specific application.

“Instead of only pushing one technology, we’re more concerned about how to address customers’ issues and how to resolve them using all of the solutions we have designed in-house,” Varma says.

That means configuring software for the specific customer and tailoring the integrations between hardware and the customer’s application with a holistic platform based on extendable plugin architecture. It also means ensuring an open platform that can easily meld biometrics collection and matching from modalities marketed by competitors.

Part of Princeton Identity’s business model is continuing to provide long term value with a platform that grows and adapts both in how it can be deployed and is breadth of integrations, Varma says.

Customers can use their existing IP cameras, access control platform, and time and attendance system, enhanced with Princeton Identity’s identity integrity technology. Varma understands that customers want to avoid ripping and replacing existing resources when possible.

“Princeton Identity focuses on building long term value based on flexibility and openness, a result of a heritage of working with government customers.  With most solutions in the market, you usually take what’s off the shelf and you have to work with it. With our adaptable platform we go one step beyond that.”

The same approach and set of capabilities is also how the company was able to quickly develop a system with integrated body temperature scanning, according to Varma.

Getting specific, from configuration to personalization

Iris biometrics are second only to DNA in terms of accuracy, as a modality, Varma points out; except with identical twins where iris is better. The speed of iris recognition has convenience implications, Varma emphasizes, as well as security ones, and the modality on its own will be the best choice in many situations.

Applications using a larger database often require iris to take advantage of the modality’s accuracy with a large group, Varma points out. Hence, the use of iris biometrics in Aadhaar and in the UAE.

“Especially when you’re doing 1 to millions or hundreds of millions of people, accuracy level for iris is unmatched.”

The deployment details need to be based on the specifics of the use case to be effective. Some of Princeton Identity’s customers choose to implement biometrics only for certain applications, though at least two-factors are required for many facilities, datacenters and laboratories.

“The strategy changes as you go from outer to inner layers of your entity. Outer layer is typically fine with a single modality; as you enter inner layers, where you need a higher security level, then absolutely you want multi-modal multi-factor systems,” Varma explains.

That scalability is a key part of Princeton Identity’s outlook, and Varma’s optimism for biometrics in general.

“Tiered security is great,” she says, “but I think the reason biometrics has taken such a hold recently in the market is because it provides that convenience factor, the experience, just as we have on our phones.”

Biometrics will transform the return-to-work experience for many customers this year, she predicts. The technology will also play a huge role in the increasing personalization of services and solutions.

A broader outlook on biometrics

The emphasis Princeton Identity puts on usability and a wider range of interactions is also part of the company reaching a new level of maturity. Varma says to expect more announcements about its evolving capabilities, including new solutions, in next 3 months.

The partnership announced earlier this month with Future Trend on a contactless workforce management solution with body temperature measurement is just the first of a series of announcements, Varma hints: “We’ll be announcing some really great partnerships over the next six months, which will leapfrog us into completely different markets, and you will see biometrics used in a completely different way than it’s being used right now.”

Biometric technology can also play a major role in the automation of a wide range of interactions in our daily lives.

“I want people to think in a broader sense of what biometrics has the capability to provide,” Varma urges.

If they do, the potential for biometrics in user-aware applications remains mostly yet to be tapped, from increased convenience, automation to personalization. Biometrics are being looked at in a different light due to the pandemic, but making processes touchless, Varma contends, is just the beginning.

As the company and the market evolve, PI will continue to develop its advanced biometrics, like its anti-spoofing for face and iris, to stay on cutting-edge of the technology, to deliver solutions that maximize its benefits to customers.

“The Internet of Things has changed the way we interact with many of the devices around us, biometrics will take those interactions a step further through personalization,” she predicts. “I want everyone to start thinking about a world without pauses because we need to pay for or unlock something; after all, we built this convenience to make things easier for life on the move.”

Bobby Varma

Bobby Varma is the CEO of Princeton Identity.