Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Authentication at your fingertips

One of the hottest new security features for the office product world is biometric authentication, especially in the form of finger-based identification. The use of analog fingerprint identification over 140 years has proven that no two people’s fingerprints are identical. Now that expertise has gone digital, with major breakthroughs over the past year.

The technique available for office use is finger vein authentication. This involves placing a finger on an authentication device which scans the blood vessel patterns, and cross-checks them with a database of previously stored scans. Manufacturers (Hitachi is the leader) claim that this is even more secure than regular fingerprint identification, since you are measuring internal, rather than external, patterns. According to claims, the method is highly accurate, with virtually no mistaken rejections of valid users.

Finger vein authentication devices are fast and compact, and it is getting better rapidly. Hitachi is the main manufacturer, and it is introducing the technology into door handles, automobile steering wheels, PCs, and ATMs. Hitachi has also released software development kits, and we expect that the applications will multiply.

Konica Minolta has been a leader in applying this technology as an option in its copiers (and now printers). It enables secure print, secure fax, and mailbox access. We expect that it will become an option on virtually all office equipment over the next year.

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