Biometrics: The fingers have it

The latest biometrics buzz is all about layering. Biometric authenticators such as fingerprints can be combined with smart cards, passwords, other biometrics and more.

We recently came across a device that combines fingerprint scans with electronic signatures. The signature can serve two purposes: one as a biometric authenticator and the other as a legally binding signature on electronic documents. Applications include computer and network access, physical access control, electronic notarization, ID creation and more.

Topaz Systems Inc. officials make the IDGem series of biometric identity verification and signature capture terminals. The devices look like other signature pads on the market but with an integrated fingerprint scanner next to the signature area.

The pad captures a biometric template of a fingerprint and a signature. As you sign the pad, the device captures the strokes, speed and timing of the signature and saves it as a biometric vector file.

Using the bundled software, the fingerprint and signature templates can be compared to a previously created template or used to build new reference templates on the fly.

IDGem comes with software plug-ins so developers can integrate e-signatures into applications such as Microsoft Corp. Word, Excel and Adobe Systems Inc. Acrobat.

Interlink Electronics Inc. officials make the ePad-i.d., which has the same general features and functionality as IDGem. Interlink's VersaPad technology captures the biometric signature information, which includes time and pressure data.

Interlink officials offer plug-ins for capturing, binding and verifying signatures with Acrobat and Office applications. Software development kits are also available for integration into custom applications.

The ePad-i.d. offers the bonus of a built-in USB hub that allows for addition of devices such as digital cameras and smart cards. You can combine these devices with the fingerprint and signature authentication to add yet another security layer.

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