Researcher Continues to Proselytize on Biometrics at SXSW

MultimodalBiometrics evangelist Dr. Leslie Saxon continues to preach the power of the technology at this year’s SXSW festival. In a new interview with Popular Science, Dr. Saxon highlights the utility of wearables, and even the potential for injectable biometric technology.

On the subject of current technology, Dr. Saxon decries the prevalence of “dumb sensors” – the kind of technology in most Americans’ phones – noting, “They’re just directional accelerometers.” But she notes that “the sensors are now becoming better, and the integration is becoming better.” And that is certainly true – at the top end of the smartphone spectrum, biometric sensors are now becoming standard, with apps like Apple’s HealthKit allowing their data to be leveraged in a user-friendly, accessible way. If the forthcoming Apple Watch proves as successful as analysts expect, that will just further popularize such technology. Dr. Saxon believes that the kind of biometric data collected from such devices – gathered and analyzed on a mass scale – could prove transformative in helping us to understand and treat health issues, such as disease epidemics, for example.

But Dr. Saxon would like to go a step further. She would like to see the development of “an invisible, implantable sensor, that’s just injected.” She notes that while the technology for such a thing is currently available, there is a cultural resistance to the idea, citing issues like privacy concerns. Given that we’re only just getting started arguing about the privacy violations of the forthcoming wifi-connected barbie doll, she’s probably onto something there.

Still, you never know how consumer attitudes will change in a few years, once we’ve all been collecting and sharing biometric data through our smartwatches.