Eye scanners, fingerprinting, and other biometrics may soon be coming to a car near you. The market for biometric vehicle access systems, currently at an estimated $442.7 million, is projected to nearly double by 2021, according to a report from Markets and Markets.

The report estimates that by 2021, the global market for biometric vehicle systems will reach $854.8 million, at a CAGR of 14.06%.

The report examines production volumes and demand trends. It also includes interviews from experts and suppliers on the future trends of the biometric vehicle access system market, as well as sources from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA), and paid databases and directories.

“Use of biometrics in automobiles is not new,” said Anil K. Jain, a Michigan State University professor who researchers biometrics. One of the first attempts was by Volvo, in which the keyfob had an embedded fingerprint reader that allowed the owner to unlock the car.

SEE: Why an eye scan could soon unlock Samsung and Apple phones

However, “given the price sensitivity in the automobile sector and long design to manufacturing cycle, it is difficult to adopt the latest biometric technology in the auto sector,” Jain said.

Since nearly every smartphone vendor is using or considering biometric authentication, the best solution may be to use biometrics capabilities in phones for automobile applications, such as unlocking the car and keyless ignition, Jain said. That way, there’s no need to embed a separate biometrics reader or recognition software in the vehicle itself.

“Aside from the convenience biometrics offers consumers, such as the ability to unlock cars by just walking up to them via facial or gait recognition, biometrics also affords much stronger security than do physical car keys or fobs which can be much more easily stolen or replicated as has been proven in the past,” said Avivah Litan, an analyst at Gartner Research.

However, biometrics are not perfect, and car manufacturers should not solely rely on this technology for security, Litan said. “They need a layered security and authentication approach,” she added.

Biometric vehicle access systems are still in a growing phase, the report stated. Fingerprint recognition systems currently hold the largest share in this market. Iris recognition systems are expected to grow in number, due to increased demand for safety features, according to the report.

The Asia-Pacific vehicle market is projected to have the largest market share in iris recognition systems by 2025. Europe is estimated to account for the largest share of the biometric vehicle access system market in 2016, with major manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Ford, and Volkswagen developing these technologies to strengthen vehicle security. In general, the automotive industry in Europe is advancing faster than in North America or the Asia-Pacific region, the report stated.

The rise of biometrics could have implications for enterprise users–in the future, we could see iris scanners replacing the security badges of the past. The growing field also has implications for the rising Internet of Things (IoT) space.

“Connected cars of the future are highly susceptible to hacks,” Litan said. “Security has been an afterthought in IoT deployments, including those in automobiles, so biometric authentication is a step in the right direction towards correcting that.”

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. The global market for vehicle biometric access systems is projected to grow from $442.7 million in 2016 to $854.8 million in 2021, according to a new report from Markets and Markets.
  2. While biometrics have been used for automobile security for many years, the technology’s rapid growth and the long design process for car manufacturing has made it difficult to adopt the latest tech in cars, experts said.
  3. The growing field of biometrics could have implications for future enterprise use, and IoT security.