Sony to launch Memory Stick fingerprint scanner

Sony is planning to introduce in February a fingerprint scanner in a Memory Stick form factor.

The card, which is smaller than a stick of chewing gum, can register and verify fingerprints of users for applications such as computer log on, unlocking of encrypted data files or the digital signing of documents.

It can stay connected to a single PC and be used to verify different users and is also small enough to be carried around by individual users to verify themselves on a number of different machines, such as in a corporate environment.

The device is a follow-on device to Sony's FIU-710, a roughly card-size fingerprint scanner that the company has been selling for around two years, and will be introduced along with a USB Memory Stick reader. A special reader for the device is needed because most Memory Stick slots accept the card flush with the edge of the adapter meaning the card is completely enclosed and users cannot put their fingers on the reader.

The FIU-900 works in a similar way to the FIU-710, storing and registering fingerprints in its 512K bytes of internal memory, and there are several differences to the two devices beyond their size. The fingerprint scanner sensor in the new device is 128 pixels by 128 pixels -- a slightly lower resolution -- however verification can be accomplished in 60 milliseconds compared to one second on the previous model, according to the company.

Both models support DES and Triple DES encryption and decryption of data and the FIU-900 can generate and store RSA keys up to 2,048 bits in length, which is double that of its predecessor.

Pricing and precise launch details are expected to be announced shortly.

In addition to the FIU-710, Sony also sells a number of other fingerprint scanners and systems. The FIU-600 features an updated version of the fingerprint scanning technology but omits the cryptographic functions and the FIU-300 is available to other manufacturers to integrate into their own products.

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