U-Match mouse makes biometrics easy
- By Michelle Speir
- Aug 16, 2000
With the increasing popularity of biometric security systems, vendors are
looking for ways to make the technology easier to use. The U-Match BioLink
Mouse from BioLink Technologies International Inc. takes things a step further,
making its fingerprint scanner hard to avoid.
The BioLink Mouse features a fingerprint scanner built into the left side
of the unit, where a right-handed user's thumb rests. Once a user account
is set up, logging in requires no extra steps or motions because a user's
hand is on the mouse.
Like other fingerprint scanners, the BioLink Mouse uses the image to generate
a unique data series that it turns into a file that the company calls a
"passport." Fingerprints are compared and identified based on this passport,
and a fingerprint image cannot be reconstructed from it. For maximum accuracy
and security, the mouse captures a 140K image with 500 dots-per-inch resolution.
The system is compatible with Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 95 (OSR 2.5), Windows
98 and Windows NT 4.0. It works with networked computers and stand-alone
PCs. We tested the system on a stand-alone workstation running Windows NT
Installing the BioLink mouse was easy. The hard-copy guide describing software
installation is clear, and a wizard takes users through the short process
step by step.
The BioLink Authentication System software integrates with the Windows NT
User Manager, adding a "BioLink" menu item to the User Manager window. Through
this menu item, administrators can access the BioLink Log-on Manager, a
window that lists all registered BioLink users.
From the BioLink Log-on Manager, administrators can add and delete users
as well as register a new fingerprint for an existing user (only one fingerprint
per user can be registered at time). A simple wizard guides the user registration
process. The system must capture three good fingerprint images, and we had
no trouble at all with this process.
A user's account can be set to allow password log-on as an alternative to
fingerprint log-on, but it cannot be set to require both a password and
a fingerprint like other biometric products we've seen.
When a BioLink user is logged in to the machine with a fingerprint, only
that user's fingerprint can unlock a locked workstation. Also, if the computer
is set to use a password-protected screen saver, the user's fingerprint
is required to gain access.
Those functions work a little differently with Windows NT than with Windows
95/98 because the latter operating system does not have a workstation lock
Our biggest beef with the system is the lack of a user's guide for the Windows
NT version. Even though an option on the CD-ROM's menu says, "Install BioLink
Guides," there was only one user's guide available, and it took a call to
the company's technical support to figure out it was the Windows 95/98 version
However, a BioLink Technologies representative told us that in a few weeks
the company will ship a completely different software package with the BioLink
Mouse. The new version will include additional features such as file and
One other possible snag for some users: There is no left-handed version
of the BioLink Mouse. If a user is left-handed or has a missing or injured
right thumb, he or she can still use the BioLink Mouse by registering a
different finger, but the angle is awkward.
Still, for a suggested retail price of $129, the U-Match BioLink Mouse combines
the excellent security of biometrics with a lot of convenience for most
users. The next version will include more functionality and, we hope, better