Khalil (our CTO) and I have recently returned from the Connect ID conference in Washington. Now that the jet lag is out of the way, here are some reflections on our learning from the event.

1. Most biometrics vendors view the market from behind quite thick technology lenses.

There were a large number of vendors exhibiting and these were split into two groups – larger established vendors and start-ups. It is clear that the majority of developed vendors, many of whom have been around 15 – 20 years have defined themselves as providing technology. Additionally, many have focused on doing one thing really well – be it facial recognition, voice matching, fingerprint matching, Iris recognition of other modes of biometric identification and authentication. Although there are some moves such as mergers and the development of mobile apps, the traditional vendors fundamentally see themselves as providing algorithms to their clients. Facial recognition providers were the most common, however, regardless of the mode of authentication, most traditional vendors are caught in a situation in which there are numerous competitors and what they own is becoming commoditised.

2. There’s a real interest in the biometrics as a platform service.

As traditional vendors tackle the challenges of how to move forward, there is significant interest in the platform concept. By platform, I mean a flexible platform delivered as a service using best in class biometric solutions to manage identification and authentication across the customer journey. For further clarity, “as a service” means hosted in the cloud and delivered within hours rather than months. For example, we’re in discussions with a leading voice recognition and matching vendor both to include their algorithms as best of breed in the platform but also for them to potentially sell the SmilePass platform as an additional service offering. Those vendors that have focused to date on single mode authentication face the choice of investing heavily in developing other modes from scratch or using the existing best of breed capabilities within SmilePass to go-to-market immediately.

3. Don’t take USB’s as a handout when the majority of delegates are from the Department of Defence!

As part of our preparation for the event, we branded a large number of USBs and loaded brochures, infographics, and videos onto these. What we did not realise is that no-one from Homeland Security or similar organisations is going to take a USB from a start-up exhibiting at the event. USB’s are viewed as high risk for potential downloads of malware. Note to self for next time.

4. Breakfast in America.

According to Supertramp (am I showing my age here), they might have kippers for breakfast in Texas. If you’re looking for a healthy breakfast in Washington, you have to look very hard. By healthy, I mean fresh fruit, muesli, plain Greek yoghurt as well as the essential good coffee. You can find good coffee with a bit of searching. You can find eggs and “breakfast meat” – yuck. You can find waffles which are OK as a treat – very occasionally. Unless you’re staying in a 5 – star hotel though, it’s virtually impossible to find fresh fruit for breakfast. The best you can do is to look at a picture of an orange and imagine what it would be like.