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Software // Enterprise Applications
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The New Security Solutions

Emerging security technology has several admirable goals: proactive, integrated, inferential

Access management vendor Imprivata also is developing integrated physical and network security technology. Its OneSign Physical/Logical appliance works with security badge systems and considers a user's location before deciding whether to grant remote or local network access.

Because of this convergence, in a lot of companies physical and IT security leaders are starting to report to a chief security officer, says Bill Stuntz, CEO of BroadWare Technologies, a vendor of IP-based digital video surveillance systems and services. "The big move from analog to digital video means physical security is becoming the IT manager's domain, and [he or she] will ultimately be in control of the budget for this," Stuntz says.


Imagine a biometric finger scanner that checks your identity using not only your fingerprint but the tissue structure and hemoglobin levels in your finger as well. That's the vision of Nanoident Technologies, an Austrian company that specializes in semiconductors printed onto glass, plastic foil, or paper rather than written onto a silicon chip. Nanoident builds security features such as photonic and microfluidic sensors into its system-on-a-chip semiconductors, which means they could be embedded in cell phones or devices the size of a credit card without taking up much space or using much power.

The typical "swipe" fingerprint sensor, with which a finger is rubbed across a sensitive metal plate so that its image can be captured and compared against a fingerprint database for authentication, is 15 millimeters long by 2 millimeters wide. The size of such swipe sensors makes them popular with PC makers: Hewlett-Packard alone ships 250,000 PCs a month with embedded fingerprint readers.

Such sensors have potential in the mobile phone market, says Nanoident CEO Klaus Schroeter, where size, price, and cool features drive sales. Nanoident's finger scanners would be small enough for a cell phone but large enough to fit an entire fingerprint.

Where were you at 12:15? 3VR's surveillance tagging makes it easy to find out.

(click image for larger view)

Where were you at 12:15? 3VR's surveillance tagging makes it easy to find out.
For fingerprint authentication technology to be widely deployed, it will have to get more accurate, says Schroeter. He puts fingerprint biometrics at 98% accurate but says that needs to be increased to 99.9% for businesses to feel comfortable deploying the technology. "It's easy to fake a fingerprint today," Schroeter says, explaining that when someone touches a piece of glass and leaves behind a fingerprint, it can be photographed and made into a stamp that's 95% accurate.

Nanoident's technology is more accurate, Schroeter says. "We capture the structure beneath the fingerprint using red and infrared light to penetrate the finger up to several millimeters," he says. "We measure the skin parameters and hemoglobin content of the blood so we can then say if this is a live finger, as opposed to a fake fingerprint."

Nanoident claims to include all of the technology for acquiring fingerprints, extracting data, matching against a database, and storing the information on the semiconductor itself. The complexity of manufacturing printed semiconductors with light-sensitive photonic sensors has kept the company from releasing its technology sooner, Schroeter says, but with advances in manufacturing processes, Nanoident plans to open a printing facility in Austria in January.

Nanoident subsidiary Bioident Technologies positions its technology as a disposable photonic lab-on-a-chip that can be used to detect and analyze chemical and biological agents in the air, food, or water supplies. Bioident's microprocessors will let scientists, researchers, and first responders carry devices that let them check for contamination out in the field. A sample of potentially contaminated water could be dropped on a chip containing a microfluidic sensor, which would create a chemical reaction that provides information about what's in the water. Since these printed microprocessors would be inexpensive, they could then be discarded and replaced with a new processor. "Imagine if I could just carry a chip that could do all of my diagnostics [work] rather than taking it back to a lab," says Bioident CEO Wasiq Bokhari.

Mistletoe Technologies sells a chip that includes an embedded VPN, a firewall, and denial-of-service prevention features. It already partners with network appliance makers such as BroadWeb and Viking Interworks to embed VPN and firewall chips into their devices.

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