Three ways biometrics are unlocking the next-gen smart home

3 min read

Over the years, the internet of things (IoT) has made us increasingly connected to our devices and to each other, making our lives more convenient, enjoyable, cost-effective and safe.

From energy meters and TVs to watches and security systems, many domestic devices are now fitted with the latest communication technology.

Consumers are driving this trend, with research estimating that the smart home device market is set to grow from $55 billion in 2016 to $174 billion by 2025. This sustained growth is expected to continue over the long-term, as the availability of applications increases, and consumers adopt multiple smart devices across their homes.

Of course, as devices become part of our homes, managing who can interact with them and how is crucial and biometrics is set to play an important role. With consumers already accustomed to the convenience and security of biometrics in smartphones, the technology is shaping up to secure both physical and logical IoT consumer devices in the home. Here’s three ways in which biometrics create a more secure, convenient and smart home.

Access control starts right at your front door with how you enter. The most obvious way, then, in which biometrics can play a role in the future of the smart home is by increasing the safety of digital and smart locks. Statistically, burglary is a crime of opportunity. Of course, traditional key locks have always been susceptible to opportunistic thieves, but since most smart locks are reliant on working Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, they also run the risk of leaving homes vulnerable to attack. Not to mention that digital locks rely on PIN codes, which can be easily hacked and more easily forgotten.

Biometric sensors store all data on-device, meaning that power outages or patchy Wi-Fi do not impact the security of the lock. This means that without the correct user to authenticate, access to homes, cars, safes and suitcases through smart locks will remain secure at all times. This added security appeals to consumers, with our recent research finding that almost one in three consumers would like to use some form of biometrics to access their home in the future.

The on-device storage of biometric data is also a key consideration for gaining consumers’ trust, as 17% of people that don’t own smart home devices cite data privacy as a barrier to adoption. If implemented in the right way, consumer biometric data is securely stored on their own device and need never touch the cloud, meaning consumers can rest assured that no one will be able to access or steal their data.

And because biometric data is so difficult to steal and spoof, by adding biometric authentication to end-point devices, hacks can be considerably reduced, ensuring that homes stay safe and secure and device-makers reduce the risk of liability.

Lost and found

Beyond increasing security, biometrics also make the access process more convenient. The predecessors to biometric technology in the home are keys, PINs and passwords – all of which are no longer fit for purpose.

Besides being easy to steal, keys are equally easy to lose, which make them the perfect tool for locking yourself out. And although PINs and passwords cannot be physically lost, memory is a fickle thing, meaning that PIN-enabled locks and laptops often suffer the same fate as the humble key.

These concerns are not just hypothetical, with 6 in 10 consumers worried about forgetting passwords and many growing increasingly frustrated with the number of different codes they have to remember across appliances. In fact, the poor UX means that 41% of consumers admit to reusing the same password across multiple devices and services, thereby significantly increasing security concerns.

Of course, you cannot ‘forget’ or ‘lose’ your fingerprint, making biometric technology a highly convenient authentication solution for all areas of the home, from front doors to personal laptops. Face and iris sensors have the added benefits of working hands-free, meaning that you can literally keep your groceries in hand while entering the home.

Biometric technology can also be used to personalize settings across the smart home, such as setting up different access rights to screen time and making sure that children (and animals!) stay out of the medicine cabinet.

These settings can be expanded to logical use cases beyond security – think selecting movie and music settings in your shared entertainment system with nothing but a touch of the finger or glance of the eye. You could even use biometrics to select seat settings in your family car. In fact, consumers are particularly keen to use the technology in this way, with 20% wanting to use biometrics to personalize car settings in the future.

Biometrics – protecting what matters most

Our homes are our most intimate spaces and getting security right, particularly with the increase of IoT devices, is crucial. It is clear that the traditional key no longer supports the security and convenience needs of the modern home. Equally, PINs and passwords struggle to guarantee the cybersecurity necessary to secure the plethora of IoT devices.

Compared to these access control methods, biometrics can add a significantly more convenient, secure and personalized layer of authentication to many areas of the (smart) home. Whether as part of a multi-modal security solution or as a replacement for outdated authentication methods, biometric technology is set to help unlock the next-gen security for the smart home.