News | May 10, 1999

Fingerprint Identification Presses On

Biometric signature recognition and fingerprint identification systems for computers are rapidly gaining stature. To date, fingerprint ID systems have been installed at national banks, two of the world's largest legislative branches, Fortune 500 organizations, and government institutions.

The trend is so significant that Lucent Technologies, for example, has spun-off Veridicom, a provider of silicon-based fingerprint authentication technology. In turn, Veridicom has just announced the introduction of a next-generation biometrics sensor dubbed the FPS 110. It's now in production and available in volume.

The firm's electrostatic discharge (ESD) FPS 110 resistant sensor features enhanced imaging capability to provide high accuracy and reliability. Moreover, ESD performance--a major concern where charged people touch sensors--has been significantly improved with an industry standard Human Body Model air discharge capability of more than 15 kV.

Elsewhere in the fingerprint ID industry, Biometric Identification (Biometric ID; Sherman Oaks, CA) has announced an OEM module using Thomson-CSF Semiconducteurs Specifiques' (TCS; Grenoble, France) fingerprint ID technology. The firm is also part of the growing FingerChip Partners program.

For its part, Veridicom's latest OpenTouch sensor now also includes increased sensor sensitivity coupled with a major improvement to the company's existing Image Plus software module, called DFX (difficult finger extraction). DFX ensures high image quality for difficult-to-image fingers.

No More Passwords

OpenTouch technology replaces passwords and PINs by using fingerprint templates for authentication. PC users control the authentication process to ensure that privacy is maintained.

An advance in the company's silicon fabrication process has improved sensor hardness by a factor of 30 (to 2.5 mJ). That's nearly equal to the chip fracture energy. The end result is a 500 dots per inch image to ensure quality, accuracy and precision. These advancements will make their way into a variety of products including laptops; computer peripherals such as keyboards; PCMCIA (PC Card) cards; smartcard readers; and access control devices.

The FPS 110 will also be found in Veridicom's next generation of desktop peripherals. The firm's latest modules for Universal Serial Bus (USB) and parallel port connectivity have received both FCC and CE (European) certification.

FingerChip Partners

With its announcement, Biometric ID has also joined the industry's FingerChip Partners program to facilitate product information flow to its current OEM customers. With its product based on a silicon chip that measures 1.5 mm x 14 mm (0.06 in. x 0.55 in.), this product is claimed to be the FingerChip group's smallest thermal imaging sensor.

Direct contact with the protected chip produces a high quality eight-bit 500 dot per inch image. What's more, no light or optics are needed; a finger's own heat produces all that's required to image a fingerprint.

Like Veridicom's wares, the FingerChip is also resistant to ESD and harsh environmental conditions, and features a unique user interface that lets it produce large images. The result is accurate matching.

Biometric ID's product line also includes a range of fingerprint recognition modules and devices to verify an individual's identity--all in less than a second. Each product set uses what's called Ridge Recognition, the company's fingerprint verification algorithm that leverages 20 years of experience designing high-tech systems for the Department of Defense.

Adjusting for Distortion

This patented technology adjusts for realworld conditions such as the effects of swollen, aged, dirty, scarred or cut fingers--the main pitfalls of other technologies. Standalone devices are also available from Biometric ID for those situations where a host computer isn't available or not considered secure. The patented algorithm computes a sophisticated data-rich vector map of a fingerprint by adjusting for any distortion in the captured image with proprietary filtering techniques, and then analyzing the unique ridge and valley pattern of the finger.

Biometric ID's latest OEM modules are also engineered to function with popular silicon fingerprint sensors. As such, OEMs need not be concerned about re-enrolling fingerprints if they decide to change their sensor hardware, or require multiple types of sensors based on particular needs. An original enrollment captured on one sensor is always maintained and employable in the event that verification is required on a sensor made by another provider. "With this tiny sensor, OEMs can address a variety of exciting applications, including security for cellphones, laptops, handheld computers, door locks and more," avows Biometric president and CEO Robert Kamm.

For more information about Biometric Identification, dial 818-501-3908. To contact Thomson-CSF Semiconducteurs Specifiques call 973-812-9000.