Acer TravelMate 739TLV and BioLink U-Match

Biometrics is the science of measuring biological structures, such as the human body. Today, this type of technology is constantly being further developed for security and identification purposes in areas such as fingerprint recognition, face recognition, iris/retina recognition, hand geometry measurements, voice authentication and signature/writing recognition.

Considering that theft and consequent loss of sensitive data is the arch-nemesis of any single notebook user - let alone a company or government department with a fleet of notebooks - the introduction of biometric security makes perfect sense given the money and data that potentially can be saved.

Acer is currently shipping its $7999 TravelMate 739TLV with an in-built fingerprint sensor made to withstand over 1 million finger contacts and resist spills. Using the preloaded WhoIsIt? software, a 500dpi image of the fingerprint is created and stored and can be used to identify someone upon boot-up or while in Windows. The key can instantly activate the screen saver, which then requires fingerprint ID before anyone can resume using the computer.

Another alternative is available from local company www.26bit.com, which is importing the BioLink U-match biometric mouse into Australia. Featuring a fingerprint sensor built into the side of a stylish silver mouse and connecting via a standard PS/2 port, it is compatible across the Windows OS range. The standard software bundle includes drivers and screen saver protection as well as network, Internet and desktop management tools. Fingerprints are stored as templates that cannot be used to regenerate fingerprint images.

At $396 including GST, features such as a log-on encryption software suite and password broker with 20 user licences are also included. The stated false acceptance rate of the device is one in 1 billion.

As for price and affordability - at present, the majority of biometric devices are at the higher end of the price scale. Although they will become more affordable over time, this price reduction can only be brought closer through widespread adoption of the technology.

Although traditional security measures such as passwords and, more recently, smart cards remain susceptible to the 'forgotten or lost' factor, they are still cheaper alternatives for local access PC security.

Socially, the implications are potentially more sinister. The FBI secretly checked every patron's face against a criminal database upon entry to the most recent Super Bowl in the US, and retailers in Melbourne have got together to do something similar in their street outlets. The ethical debate will only intensify as technology further dances the line between security functionality and invasion of privacy.

Acer TravelMate 739TLV

Price: $7999

Distributor: Acer

Phone: (02) 9870 1999

URL: www.acer.com.au

BioLink U-match Mouse

Price: $396

Distributor: 26bit.com IT Solutions

Phone: (03) 9890 8023

URL: www.26bit.com

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