A World Without Passwords: How Biometrics are Changing Digital Security

A World Without Passwords: How Biometrics are Changing Digital Security


As phone and computers add new camera, accelerometer and sensor technologies, it opens the doors for the integration of advanced biometrics in the personal computing and consumer electronics space. The Biometrics Research Group has projected that the global biometrics market may grow from its 2012 estimated value of $7 billion to $15 billion by 2015, and revenue for the global biometrics market is anticipated to reach $20 billion by 2018.

Biometrics Chart from 'The Future of Biometrics' market research report

Recently, I purchased a Lenovo laptop that includes facial recognition as a security feature. This allows the PC to scan via the HD webcam for recognized faces linked to my Windows sign-in. A few seconds after scanning the PC is unlocked....

Biometrics is here, going mainstream, and receiving significant venture capital funding. Today we’ll explore three startup companies in the biometrics space that are poised for significant growth based on their continued development of proprietary technology, significant outside funding and top level executive talent.[a13_separator position="full_width" type="single_dots"]

First on our list is Bionym. For this Toronto-based tech company founded in 2011 the key to security lies in the heart--literally. Bionym has developed the Nymi bluetooth-enabled wristband that continuously monitors and stores your ECG patterns and uses them as biometric security data to unlock your devices.

With biometrics, proximity sensors, and gesture control, the Nymi is attempting to move beyond easily replicable indicators such as the face and fingerprints to increase security for the user. Furthermore, this device hopes to be compatible with almost all of your electronic devices from your phone, tablet, PC and laptop, to your vehicle, home and office. Although the company has been approached about licensing the technology, they're more focused on "create a platform as a business" (from a recent TechCrunch post).

See a demo of the product in action here.


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Next up, KeyLemon. The Martigny, Switzerland-based startup, a 2008 outgrowth of the Idiap Research Institute, lets people use the visual patterns of their faces to log into their desktop, laptop and mobile devices. What separates KeyLemon from many recent biometrics startups, is its partnership with several large firms who are integrating KeyLemon's facial recognition technology into their own software. Current partners include the Motorcycle Safety Institute, Blackboard education systems, and AmeriTech College.

With a team of experienced tech stars, a total of $3M in funding, and decent projected growth rates, KeyLemon seems like a company that has carved out its own niche in the biometric security space with a focus on strategic partnerships.

Key Lemon Image from a CNET Review

Finally we highlight a newer startup in the biometric space, PayTango. Founded in 2012 by students at Carnegie Mellon University, PayTango is a YCombinator startup that has developed a biometric payment device that utilizes fingerprint data to pay for purchases. While several industry insiders question the viability of fingerprints as a security key (particularly due to the ease with which they can be replicated), the concept of using biometric data to pay for purchases seems to be catching on.

Andreessen Horowitz and YC invested $700k in PayTango in a seed round in early 2013. The PayTango team developed a hardware prototype in 2013 and have since installed several units at their alma mater. With a relatively inexperienced yet well-educated team, a clear vision, and dramatic projected growth rates, PayTango does seem like a risky proposition but one with real potential.


As you can see the biometric security space is filled with unproven companies looking to make an impact with their remarkably ingenious ideas and innovations. We encourage you to utilize DataFox to explore this industry further, including our DataFox watchlist of over 50+ biometric related companies.

Biometrics Funding