Mobile Security Literally In The Palm Of Your Hand

Fujitsu hopes to bring palm vein biometrics to smartphones, providing users with even greater choice in strong mobile authentication.

When you think about strong mobile authentication, what do you picture? Chances are if you work for one of the numerous vendors in the biometric market landscape, you picture your scanner or reader of choice, embedded or connected to a smartphone or tablet. Maybe you picture Touch ID or the Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner; Perhaps its an image of your front facing camera as you look to the left and authenticate with EyeVerify; You might not picture anything, it could be that your biometrics of are invisible and you see a future of voice authentication, but there is one biometric modality that probably didn’t cross many minds: palm vein.

This week, Fujitsu put forward the hope that its PalmSecure technology – which uses near-infrared light to capture the vascular pattern beneath the skin of a user’s hand – will one day soon be embedded on a smartphone.

Currently, the technology has a number of high-security access control deployments and patient management systems, both for which PalmSecure is well suited. The veins in your palm (hopefully, for your own sake) don’t leave vascular prints on whatever your hand comes in contact with, so it is inherently spoof-proof.

The secure nature of the biometric being measured seems like an excellent fit for smartphones and tablets too, especially with the work that Fujitsu’s R&D has been doing on making the solution renewable. Fujitsu has taken the first steps in making the dive into mobility by incorporating PalmSecure into its Lifebook line of laptops (to be demonstrated at next week’s CeBIT 2014 business IT event in Hannover, Germany). Now that the technology can squeeze down to the size of a stamp, it might successfully nail the landing.

How much of a splash this kind of technology will make is left up to the consumer demand. The two most ubiquitous smartphones on the market, the iPhone and the Galaxy, have already embedded fingerprint technology onto their flagship phones, so Fujitsu going with a different modality could set them apart from the crowd, especially as the public still remembers the high profile Touch ID spoofing in the fall and the subsequent negative customer reviews of false rejections.

Possibly the most encouraging aspect of Fujitsu’s mobile hopes is what it illustrates about the future of mobile identity in general.

The smartphone in particular has become the revolutionary vehicle for strong authentication that the identity tech industry has been needing for so long in order to gain traction in the consumer market. At a current generation phone’s most basic, it already natively supports voice, face and eye-based biometrics with the microphone and front facing camera respectively. Now it seems like embedded fingerprint technology is here to stay on the device as well. When Fujitsu inevitably makes the jump, bringing palm vein to mobile ID, the most powerful identifier of all is bolstered: the end user’s choice.