Biometrics Now and Then

Fingerprint sensors are being improved and applied in new ways—and in the future will be combined with other technologies to enhance security.

Tychi Systems' BioKnob is the first known doorknob with fingerprint recognition. Interchangeable with a standard knob, it can store 100 sets of prints. BioKnob's sensor reads your fingerprint pattern when you brush a finger across the reader, which converts the pattern to a template. No pictures are recorded, so no one can replicate prints from the data. An audit feature records entries by individual, date, and time. Visitors can be programmed and their fingerprints later deleted. (

Applying the same technology to a different use, AuthenTec says its new EntrePad 1610 provides the most secure PC protection in the world's smallest fingerprint sensor. The sensor has been designed into notebook and tablet PCs set to be introduced in the next few months, and it promises a host of industry "firsts":

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It supports existing security platforms such as the Trusted Computing Group's v1.2 Trusted Platform Module (TPM) and Microsoft Vista Secure Startup, and upcoming platforms such as Intel's LaGrande.

Its anti-spoofing and security technologies are upgradeable (it stores its secure matcher and local print template in the sensor's flash memory).

It lets you easily authenticate virtually every action, from opening applications to sending email. Thus, thieves are unable to operate functions even if the PC is authenticated. (

Less Costly and Multimodal

The future promises less costly biometrics: Validity Sensors Inc. will use its latest round of financing to expand sales and marketing and further develop its patented LiveFlex fingerprint ID technology, which uses RF to read into living tissue. LiveFlex's Chip-on-Flex packaging decouples the sensing elements from the fragile silicon die, and thus delineates the size of the silicon (which determines cost), from the size of the sensor (which determines security). Validity says this affords the fingerprint sensor industry "a quantum leap in durability by requiring the user to come into contact only with Kapton, a highly resilient material, and allows Validity to solve the industry-wide reliability problems associated with direct human contact to silicon." (

In an effort to compound methods for greater security, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has awarded International Biometric Group (IBG) a research grant to develop multiple biometric systems based on fusion of fingerprint, face recognition, and iris recognition technologies. IBG will test fusion and normalization techniques using algorithms from leading fingerprint, face recognition, and iris recognition vendors. Based on this testing, IBG will develop multimodal components for use in real-world identification systems, access control systems, and other criminal justice applications. (

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