Tascent’s Joey Pritikin on mobile and multi-modal
24 August 2016 16:29 GMT

By Craig Guthrie, deputy editor

Plans to leverage on-board smartphone hardware to create mobile multi-modal solutions have likely been held back by the fact that devices arguably do not have powerful enough hardware for truly secure biometric enrolment. 

If a device’s camera and sensors are not perfect for enrolment, can it be used for mission critical areas such as border control or refugee registration?

Tascent’s new M6 device appears designed to tackle this issue. The mobile biometric device works in conjunction with Apple’s iPhone 6 or 6s to create a multimodal biometric platform.

The device is powered by Tascent’s advanced iris imaging system and Integrated Biometrics’ Sherlock fingerprint sensor, but while also leveraging the inherent mobility and security in iOS and the iPhone’s iSight camera.

The product is being offered in two configurations, with one supporting fingerprint, face, and voice biometrics and the other enabling the full complement of iris, fingerprint, face and voice biometrics.

Planet Biometrics caught up with Joey Pritikin, VP Marketing and Product Management at Tascent, to discuss the solution’s advantages.

What trends inspired the development of the M6?

Tascent M6 was inspired by a combination of market and technology trends. From a market perspective, we’ve seen continually increasing demand for a way to establish and verify identity where traditional methods were too slow and cumbersome or not accurate enough. Our customers needed something that is pocketable and easy to use, but also captures enrollment-quality biometrics across leading modalities.

 Interest has come from a broad range of customers who each have specific application needs, which demanded a platform that could be highly customized to meet workflow, data format, security, communications, and language needs.

 From a technology perspective, given the pervasive adoption of smartphone technology around the world, we saw an opportunity to solve customer problems in a way that was truly easy-to-use while also scalable and secure in demanding enterprise use cases. We also saw that multimodality was key: Iris, fingerprint, face, and voice each offer strengths that complement each other and can help Tascent M6 fit a large range of applications.

Do you see mobile biometric solutions increasingly playing a role in travel?

We see mobile biometric solutions playing several key roles in travel. First, they can support mobile enrollment for biometrically-enabled travel solutions, so that people can enroll in programs from the convenience of their office or other central locations. Today, we see the burden of enrollment as limiting the use of biometric travel solutions. Second, they can facilitate in-transit authentication, so that (for instance), trusted travelers can clear immigration while on a plane, boat, or train, rather than waiting to arrive and having to wait in a long queue. Finally, mobile solutions can help complement fixed position or automated systems in peak travel times by allowing border officers or airline representatives to support people in queues without being bound to traditional desks or counters.

How powerful is the convergence between mobile and biometrics solutions in terms of securing future identities?

 The convergence of true mobility and high quality biometric solutions offers the potential for a state change in securing identities. When implemented properly, mobile biometric systems are versatile, compact, intuitive, accurate, and secure. This combination of characteristics means that it will be easier than ever to establish and verify strong identity in a wide range of applications around the world, ranging from time and attendance and financial services to border management and humanitarian aid. We’ve seen what smartphones do for us in work and at home, in a near-infinite range of applications. They can now do the same for helping to secure identity.

 Already, we are starting see how the power of smartphones can be used to deliver advanced biometric capability beyond biometric capture itself. Today, we offer the ability to do powerful on-board multimodal biometric matching, which is a critical capability for end users who may be in remote environments where connectivity isn’t an option. Meanwhile, for connected environments, we are able to leverage the phenomenal advances in web-based technologies to offer streamlined, secure interfaces between the device and the backend for communication, configuration, synchronization, and beyond. Mobile isn’t just about the device, but about the services that empower the device. We’re very excited to be working on this side of mobility as well, delivering seamless mobile identity solutions to our customers around the world.    

Do you believe multiple modalities are required for mobile solutions?

Multiple modalities aren’t required for mobile solutions, but they certainly help. With a multimodal platform, we can address core biometric needs for a wide range of end users while also giving them the option of a bridge to next generation solutions where they may want to rely on multimodality as a means to increase usability, accuracy, or breadth of deployment. So for instance, if an end user in border management has traditionally relied on fingerprint recognition for mobile enrollment or identification, we can offer them the ability to benefit from the unique characteristics of iris and facial recognition without having to depart from the value they derive from fingerprint as a modality.

Why are mobile biometric solutions so powerful in humanitarian aid scenarios?

Humanitarian aid situations are tremendously challenging from a wide range of perspectives, but if we look just from an identity perspective, there are many opportunities to help aid organizations to manage who has received social services, who has gotten medical treatment, where people are, and if there are any potentially dangerous people who need to managed appropriately.

The benefit of a smartphone-based mobile biometric solution here is that it can be easily and cost-effectively deployed, is intuitive to use by non-technical end users, and can integrate contextual information along with the basic biometric collection. In this way, a system for establishing and verifying identity can be rapidly deployed and can offer consistently useful information, helping to simplify what is typically a complex, dynamic, and difficult environment.

Tascent will be exhibiting at the Global Identity Summit in Tampa, Florida on 19-22 September, 2016.