Brian.oco 0 Posting Whiz

I haven't spent a lot of time -- okay, "any time" -- talking about the fast-growing biometrics market.

Part of it was ignorance. I didn't know know much about it.

But I'm all amped up on biometrics after reading a new white paper from BCC Research entitled "The Global Biometrics Market".

Any technology marketplace that draws billions of dollars is fine by me. The biometrics category fits that descrition well. According to the biometrics report from BCC, the global market for the technology was worth nearly $2 billion in 2006 and is expected to increase to $2.7 billion in 2007 and $7.1 billion by 2012, a compound annual growth rate of 21.3% over the next five years.

BCC defines biometrics as the fingerprint, face recognition, hand geometry and "physical security definition" market. We may be in the Information Age, and biometrics does apply to that, but we're also in the Security Age, post 9/11, and everyone seems to want to know who you are.

From a civil liberties standpoint, I'll let the blue-staters square off against the red-staters. The only color I care about is green, and the biometrics market has plenty of that. According to BCC, the fingerprint biometrics, the oldest form of biometrics in use today, will be worth $1.3 billion in 2007, and should grow to $2.7 billion by 2012, BCC says. The main reason for this growth is the decrease in the price of fingerprint sensors, making them more affordable, and government initiatives that rely heavily on fingerprint biometrics.

The second largest segment in the biometrics market is face recognition. That sector will grow from $459 million in 2007 to $1.3 billion by 2012. Hand biometry will be the next largest segment in 2007 with market revenue of $243 million. By 2012, the market value for that sector will be $752.6 million.

There are a few other less-defined, but potentially profitable remaining biometric segments like iris scan, middleware, multimodality, voice recognition, and signature verification. BCC bundles them together as "emerging biometric markets" and estimates a current market value of $729 million. But look at the growth estimates! These segments together are estimated to grow at a CAGR of 26% to $2.3 billion by 2012.

Geographically, Europe and Asia are ahead of the U.S. in commercial implementation of biometrics. Europe currently leads the biometrics market due to higher user acceptance and the introduction of biometric passports in the majority of European countries. However, the highest potential lies in the Asian region where technologically developed countries such as South Korea and Japan and growing countries such as China and India will drive the highest percentage of growth, BCC says.

I'll keep a closer eye on this sector and report back soon. In the meantime, know that Big Brother really is watching you, so you might as well make some money off it.

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