PC Expo in us sheds light on biometrics trend

At last month’s PC Expo in New York, the “Biometropolis” featured biometric devices—gadgets that identify you by scanning your face, fingerprint or voice. CRN took a look.

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By  Peter Conmy Published  August 5, 2000

The world of James Bond may be inching toward reality. At last month’s PC Expo in New York, the “Biometropolis” featured biometric devices—gadgets that identify you by scanning your face, fingerprint or voice.

Although the devices have a distinctly futuristic look and feel and have yet to make much of a wave in the market, integrators and vendors were upbeat about the technology’s prospects.

The technology has advanced a lot in the past few months, said Samir Nanavati, partner at International Biometric Group, a New York-based integration and consulting firm that sponsored the biometrics pavilion.

Biometric Windows

Several factors, including Microsoft’s recent announcement that it will integrate biometric technology into future versions of the Windows operating system, are pushing clients who were researching the technology to implement it, he said.

“It’s moving people from the investigation stage to ‘let’s do this’,” Nanavati said.

Samir’s brother Raj Nanavati, partner at International Biometric Group, said the most prevalent application in corporations for biometrics currently is in identification devices that allow employees’ access to internal databases.

One of the seven vendors showing off their technology at Biometropolis was Viisage Technology, which offers facial-recognition systems. Not surprisingly, you have probably never heard of Viisage, but International Biometric Group is betting that it won’t be long until you do.

Tom Colatosti, president and CEO of Viisage, said the company is working with several banks to integrate the technology into their ATMs. He expects full-scale deployment by the end of this year or beginning of next year. Fifty-eight casinos incorporate Viisage’s technology in surveillance systems to catch cheaters.

Security Concerns

In addition to surveillance and point-of-sale devices, physical access and PC access are other promising areas for biometrics, Colatosti said.

“We see a huge opportunity in PC access and wireless,” he said.
Gretchen Lewis, marketing director at Viisage, said the growth of e-commerce and accompanying security concerns will help push acceptance of biometrics.

“Now if you want to know whom you’re doing business with, biometrics is a great way to do that,” she said.

In May, Microsoft acquired I/O Software’s Biometric API technology and SecureSuite core authentication technology. By integrating biometrics into Windows, users will be able to log on via fingerprints, iris patterns or voice recognition, instead of a password.

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