Research points to growth in government biometrics market and future M&A

Govt biometrics market to hit US$6.9bn (Security Document World)

SDI says: “Government identity and border control initiatives, increasing concerns about data security, and an increase in rebel groups and terrorism are expected to boost the demand for biometric identity and security systems over the coming years. As this sector gains prominence, it is expected that large competitors will try to generate competence by acquiring medium and small sized niche firms which will fill the gaps in their products or services portfolio.”

Recent M&A a sign of biometrics’ importance to electronics industry

Recent Synaptics (SYNA) Biometrics Acquisition Boosts Sector (Investor Ideas)

Alan Goode, Managing Director of GoodeIntelligence.com said of the acquisition – “The acquisition of Validity Sensors, by Synaptics., is another sign of how important biometrics is becoming to consumer technologies. I believe this is a good match between Synaptics, who has a strong track record of developing touch-based consumer solutions, and one of the remaining independent mobile biometric sensor manufacturers. This is about giving consumer electronics products better, more convenient, security and opens up fingerprint-based biometrics to other consumer devices. We expect that additional biometric modalities, including voice, facial, eye and behavioral will be quickly integrated into other electronic devices and cloud-based services.”

Fingerprint M&A is so hot right now

Apple’s integration of a fingerprint sensor in its iPhone has put other handset makers under pressure to follow suit.

But news that Samsung had bought Swedish company Fingerprint Cards &8212; promptly denied by both companies &8212; seems to have been a hoax, possibly perpetrated as part of a securities fraud scheme. See: The curious case of Samsung’s ‘purchase’ of biometrics company Fingerprint Cards, at NDTV Gadgets.

Meanwhile, Capacitive touch specialist Synaptics has agreed to buy biometric authentication firm Validity for $255 million (IT PRO)

ID management M&A

Equifax Buys Identity Protection Startup TrustedID for About $30 Million (All Things Digital) 

As part of the transaction, TrustedID will become part of Equifax Personal Solutions, the company’s direct-to-consumer business unit that offers credit monitoring and identity protection solutions. That said, TrustedID’s 30 employees will remain at its Palo Alto, Calif., HQ.

EMC Nabs Aveksa, a Player in Identity Management (All Things Digital)

EMC said today that it had acquired Aveksa, a privately held company that specializes in identity management. It’s based in Waltham, Mass., and has significant operations in India. First reports of the deal came from the Times of India, which said EMC paid $225 million. Aveksa will become part of RSA, the security division of EMC.

Read these two together…

Read this…

Emotient and iMotions partner for integrated facial expression recognition, bio sensor and eye-tracking solution (Biometric Update)

Emotient, which specializes in facial expression analysis, and iMotions, an eye-tracking and biometric software platform company, have announced that Procter and Gamble, The United States Air Force and Yale University are its first customers for a newly integrated platform that combines facial expressions recognition and analysis, eye-tracking, EEG and GSR technologies.

According to the companies, the new cobmbined solution is designed for usability research, market research, neurogaming as well as academic and scientific research.

Then this…

Google facial password patent aims to boost Android security (BBC)

Google has filed a patent suggesting users stick out their tongue or wrinkle their nose in place of a password.

It says requiring specific gestures could prevent the existing Face Unlock facility being fooled by photos.

…and then think about Google Glass (or something similar offered by another brand) and the things that become knowable as these technologies are combined and others are added. Iris and face for backward-facing and front-facing ID, knowing precisely what (or whom) someone is looking at when a certain change in neurological activity is noted. Or, precise targeting of weaponry controlled by the eye’s movement along with detailed observations of the neurological states of combatants.

Right now, all of it seems like a long way off, and it is. Significant scientific, technological, and organizational barriers exist. The technology of measurement; the science of interpretation; the fact that a lot of small players own small pieces of the puzzle; integrating the pieces: each present significant challenges. But…

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

Stay tuned. Ubiquitous multi-modal sensors and the real-time ability to interpret and act on the data they collect would have profound effects.

Microsoft Acquires Mobile Hardware Security Firm

Microsoft Boosts Mobile Security with PhoneFactor Acquisition (CMS Wire)

Microsoft will be able to tout these features as built-in or an option once the acquisition and integration is complete. PhoneFactor currently offers services for enterprise, government, banking healthcare and other verticals, while also supporting Citrix, IBM Tivoli and VMWare.

It claims that the PhoneFactor Agent service reduces the risk of compromise and increases security with benefits including; instant fraud alerts, biometric voice authentication and transaction verification, with the advantage of no extra dongles or training needed.

Face.com Redux? AuthenTec to ditch non-Apple customers in 2013

AuthenTec to reportedly ditch non-Apple customers in 2013 (Apple Insider)

In an email to its customers, which includes Samsung, HP, Dell, Lenovo and Fujitsu, Apple acquisition AuthenTec reportedly said it will no longer be honoring orders come 2013, a source told Korean language website etnews.

The announcement may be an indication of what Apple plans to do with the company and its technology after purchasing the firm in July for $356 million. AuthenTec is well known for its work in fingerprint sensor tech and it was rumored that Apple might be looking to implement the biometric security asset into an upcoming iPhone.

It may be recalled that after Facebook bought Face.com, Face.com’s existing customers were left twisting.

This is always a tricky post merger call. Does Apple continue to sell a technology, at a hefty profit, to its competitors? How long would Apple’s competitors live with that deal?

Apple seems to have made the call.

Apple Buys AuthenTec

Apple acquires biometric firm for $350 million (San Antonio Business Journal)

Apple Inc. has reportedly paid $350 million to acquire Melbourne, Fla.-based AuthenTec Inc., a maker of fingerprint authentication technology, Bloomberg reports.

The deal will help Apple improve its biometric features to improve security on future releases of the iPad and iPhone.

For some perspective, Safran bought L-1’s biometrics business for $1.6 billion in late 2010.

Josh Franklin at Seeking Alpha deserves a special prize. He called it here on June 4 when AUTH shares were trading for about $4.60/s. Pre-open today is about $8.16. Since his article at the time disclosed his long position in AUTH, he’s probably already counting his special prize as I type this.

The Seeking Alpha piece explains a lot of the rationale for the purchase.

Cross Match Technologies Purchased by Private Equity Firm

I haven’t quite figured out exactly what went down.

The press release from purchasing private equity firm Francisco Partners states pretty clearly that they acquired Cross Match.

Francisco Partners, a leading technology-focused private equity firm, today announced the acquisition of Cross Match Technologies, Inc., a leading provider of high-quality, interoperable biometric identity management systems, applications, and services.

The only seller that I can find who is talking is the UK’s Smiths Group PLC. Their press release:

Smiths Group plc today announces the disposal of its minority stake in Cross Match Technologies Inc for up to $77 million as part of its strategy to manage its portfolio more actively and divest non-core activities. [Emphasis mine.]

Cross Match was and is still privately held so it’s not easy to find out/put a number on the price Francisco Partners paid for Cross Match. The imprecision of the selling price of Smiths Group’s stake, “up to $77 million,” and its proportion of the whole, make valuing the value of the transaction difficult.

Facebook Acquires Face.com

Facebook completes Face.com acquisition (Biometric Update)

Awesome News – Facebook Acquires Face.com (Face.com Blog)
They’re understandably pleased.

Facebook Buys Facial Recognition Startup Face.com (Forbes)

Terms of the deal were not disclosed though various reports peg the price at $80 million to $100 million. The Israeli startup, which provides automated facial recognition of photos, also has a mobile photo app called Klik.

Face.com has been providing its service to a number of third-party developers and the company said in its blog post that it will continue to support those developers after the acquisition.

Facebook’s Face.com Buy: Clues to Mobile Strategy (CNBC)

Facebook’s albatross — and its biggest opportunity — is its fast-growing mobile user base. Today’s acquisition sheds light on Facebook’s plan to ensure it doesn’t lose mobile users, and to turn those half-billion people into revenue and profits.

Face.com specializes in facial recognition — its technology is used by 45,000 developers. And the company has a special expertise in mobile facial recognition: its Klik app tags people within photos before they’re even taken, while you’re holding your phone up. Google and Apple also offer facial recognition technology to tag people in photos, but Face.com is distinguished by its mobile focus, which could give Facebook users the advantage of quickly tagging friends while uploading on the go.

Of course, some people worry that adding better facial recognition technology is problematic given Facebook’s massive data store and track record on privacy…

Facebook acquires facial recognition software company (Computer World)

Sarah Downey, a privacy analyst with pro-privacy software vendor Abine, indicated that the technology was particularly alarming in the hands of Facebook.

“There is nothing more concerning in the privacy sphere than the marriage of Facebook and facial recognition,” she said in an email. “Every time you’re tagged, Facebook learns more about your face and how it looks with or without glasses, in various lighting, with facial hair, etc. It’s one of the few data sources that Facebook has yet to monetize, and the acquisition of Face.com suggests that making money off your face is on their to-do list.”

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