Apple Adds Biometrics, Snubs NFC Again

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on Sep 11, 2013

iPhones will soon have fingerprint readers. Few brands have Apple's immense market impact, and physical security increasingly takes its cues from smartphone design. Will the millions of Apple fanbois singlehandedly make fingerprints the hottest fashionable credential? Does this development spell doom for NFC's access control adoption? We take a look in this note.

[NOTE: For background, see our Fingerprint for Access Control tutorial.]

Fingerprint Scanner

Long speculated as a 'future feature', Apple has announced a fingerprint reader will be included in its iPhone 5S release. The reader will be included in the footprint occupied by the 'home button', and while retaining the same tactile features, adds a capacitive detection ring and fingerprint scanner. The conceptual design is shown below:

While final details are pending, Apple has released preliminary specs on the sensor:

Capactive Sensor: In contrast with an Optical Sensor, the semiconductor contact 'capacitive' type reader measures electrical resistance of fingerprints, and translates individual characteristics of the print into a user-unique range of measurements. While capacitive sensors are thin, low power, and inexpensive, they generally are not as reliable or accurate as the optical type.

Subdermal Scanning: Rather than reading the outermost layer of skin, Apple will tune the sensor to read prints in tissue beneath the surface. This not only avoids problems of small cuts or surface contamination, but it provides a measure of 'anti-spoofing' protection against lifted prints.

In the video below, Apple describes this feature they deem 'Touch ID' technology:

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

Implementation Details

Notable aspects pertaining to Apple's use of the sensor, aside from simple locking/unlocking of the device include:

  • Not Kept in Cloud: The fingerprint authentication template is stored on the device only. That information is not stored anywhere else (ie: iCloud), potentially risking theft and misuse.
  • Multiple Factors: Touch ID can be used in conjunction with passcodes, to add another layer of authentication to device/app security.

Apple describes that 'Touch ID' will be a user option to lock down app/iTunes purchases, or even access to specific apps on the device.

Cupertino Snubs NFC, Again

With the iPhone 5S, Apple once again sidesteps including NFC on the device, and instead opts to feature its own security interface method first. While Apple publically cites 'security concerns' as justification in omitting the technology, several sources and past patent filings suggest 'an alternative proximity technology' that is yet to be designed, but absolutely not NFC, may someday be implemented in iPhones.

The inclusion of NFC is especially relevant to the Access Control market, where many claim the technology to be 'the next big thing'. However, with upward of 40% of the US smartphone market (~15% globally [link no longer available]) choosing the iPhone, the credential tech appears no closer to the primetime than before.

Biometric Boom

Few companies wield as much design influence as Apple. Many industries and individual products take cues from the company, and if Apple declares 'fingerprint technology' a standard security element, which industries will follow? Will the iPhone 5S become the catalyst for the long-latent biometrics boom in electronic access control? We will keep sharp eyes open in the days ahead.

Comments (4) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Wyze Smart Door Lock Test on Jan 14, 2020
Wyze's inexpensive cameras have grabbed the attention of many in the consumer...
Apple Acquires XNOR.ai, Loss For The Industry on Jan 16, 2020
Apple has acquired XNOR.ai for $200 million, reports GeekWire. This is a loss...
HID Fingerprint Reader Tested on Oct 09, 2019
HID has released their first access reader to use Lumidigm optical sensors,...
Hikvision Dual Lens Face Recognition Camera Tested on Nov 19, 2019
Hikvision's Dual Lens Facial Recognition camera, claims that it "adopts...
Multi-Imagers Added to IPVM Camera Calculator on Jun 15, 2020
IPVM has added multi-imager cameras to the Camera Calculator, supporting this...
IronYun AI Analytics Tested on Feb 17, 2020
Taiwan / US startup IronYun has raised tens of millions for its "mission to...
Multipoint Door Lock Tutorial on Jan 23, 2020
Despite widespread use, locked doors are notoriously weak at stopping entry,...
Keypads For Access Control Tutorial on Jul 28, 2020
Keypad readers present huge risks to even the best access systems. If...
Axis Next Gen P32 Camera Tested (P3245-LVE) on Dec 18, 2019
Axis has released the next generation of their widely used P32 camera series,...
ADI Adds Lockers on Mar 20, 2020
Locker delivery is a growing trend, spurred by Amazon. Now, ADI has added...
US Jail Uses China State Owned Fever Camera on Apr 30, 2020
Police in Ohio are boasting about their jail's new fever camera system, which...
Hanwha AI Analytics Camera Tested on Aug 11, 2020
Hanwha has released their Wisenet P AI camera, adding person and vehicle...
TVT / InVid Facial Recognition Tested on Mar 25, 2020
Facial recognition is frequently sold for thousands of dollars per channel...
Embedded Logix Thermal Temperature Detection System Examined on Apr 08, 2020
Embedded Logix has been producing thermal temperature measurement systems for...
Access Startup Multi-Mount Aims To Streamline Reader Installs on Dec 03, 2019
Startup Multi-Mount claims it makes installing access readers 'Fast',...

Recent Reports

New Products Show Fall 2020 continues tomorrow with Genetec, Milestone, Avigilon, Microsoft and more! on Sep 29, 2020
IPVM's sixth online show continues tomorrow and will feature New Products...
Avigilon / Motorola VS Virtual ISC West on Sep 29, 2020
ISC West has historically been so dominant that no player would think of...
Dartmouth College Deploys K3 Temperature Screening on Sep 29, 2020
While Dartmouth College has a $6+ billion endowment, the College has bought...
Hanwha AI Object Detection Tested on Sep 28, 2020
Hanwha has added detection and classification of people, cars, clothing...
Favorite Access Control Manufacturers 2020 on Sep 28, 2020
200+ Integrators told IPVM "What is your favorite access control management...
OnTech Smart Services Partners With Google and Amazon To Compete With Integrators on Sep 25, 2020
A pain point for many homeowners to use consumer security and surveillance is...
The Future of Metalens For Video Surveillance Cameras - MIT / UMass / Immervision on Sep 25, 2020
Panoramic cameras using 'fisheye' lens have become commonplace in video...
Hikvision Sues Over Brazilian Airport Loss on Sep 24, 2020
Hikvision was excluded from a Brazilian airport project because it is owned...
China General Chamber of Commerce Calls Out US Politics on Sep 24, 2020
While US-China relations are at an all-time low, optimism about relations...
Verkada Disruptive Embedded Live Help on Sep 24, 2020
Call up your integrator? Have someone come by the next day? Verkada is...
IP Networking Course Fall 2020 - Last Chance - Register Now on Sep 23, 2020
Today is the last chance to register for the only IP networking course...
Drain Wire For Access Control Reader Tutorial on Sep 23, 2020
An easy-to-miss cabling specification plays a key role in access control, yet...
Norway Council of Ethics Finds Hikvision Human Rights Abuses "Ongoing" on Sep 23, 2020
Hikvision's involvement in "serious human rights abuse" in Xinjiang is...
IPVM Camera Calculator User Manual / Guide on Sep 23, 2020
Learn how to use the IPVM Camera Calculator (updated for Version 3.1). The...