Unique biometric applications create vast market in India

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By Richa Chakravarty

Gone are the days when biometric devices were used only within the ambit of defence and high security areas. With these devices becoming affordable, convenient and efficient, they are now being installed in corporate houses, banks, educational institutions, and even to issue smart cards to autorickshaw drivers. Currently, state governments have started using this technology in different application areas, giving rise to immense business opportunities in this domain, which is yet to be fully tapped.

Poised to replace many conventional methods of identity and security checks, biometric technologies are increasingly being used for various government and non-government requirements. And it is not only Central government offices that are moving towards biometric time attendance. In a project initiated by the Gujarat government to ensure enrolment of eligible students, attendance of teachers, and to reduce dropout rates in primary schools, 40,000 schools will get biometric devices.

Similarly, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) will also introduce the biometric system of attendance in its 1750 schools from July this year, which will be used by the students and teachers to record their presence.

The Karnataka government is also in the process of installing fingerprint devices in schools to keep a check on the rampant misuse of government funds in the mid-day meal programme. Apart from this scheme, biometrics fingerprint attendance systems have been installed at all the 52 departments of the Karnataka University.

Biometrics will also play a major role as the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) plans to use various types of biometric data for identification—retinal scans, fingerprinting, and varying facial images. As the system is complex, it would be more of a collaborative project amongst various companies and organisations, giving rise to immense business potential. Companies, organisations and entrepreneurs coming up with innovative technologies for biometric applications will also benefit.

Huge potential…

Going by the current trend, this segment seems to be booming and has a huge potential. “It is forecasted that the Indian biometrics market will be valued at about US$ 47 billion by this year end, and US$ 350 billion by 2020. The biometric industry is growing at a CAGR of 23-27 per cent,” says Mohsin Syed, vice president, sales and marketing, BioMoRF Systems Ltd.

Yet untapped

However, it is heartening to note that while the demand for biometrics is increasing rapidly, the country has only a few players manufacturing these devices, particularly fingerprint machines, and the technology is mostly borrowed from the West.

One of the biggest reasons hampering domestic manufacturing is that biometrics is a high end technology product and India is still at a nascent stage when it comes to exploring it. Moreover, government policies do not offer adequate incentives to companies to invest in R&D for these high end devices.

“There is a lot of technological upgradation that has happened over the years in the West. These technological advancements have been pioneered by homeland security and law enforcement departments abroad. Hence, much headway with respect to product development and its technology has happened in the West. However, once we get close to producing these high level accurate algorithms and get support for the financial investments that are required for R&D in this domain, India would be self sufficient in manufacturing and delivering end-to-end biometric solutions for different applications,” concludes Mohsin Syed.

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