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Identix, Visionics Complete Merger

Two of the leading equipment vendors have combined to form the largest biometrics company in the United States.
Jul 12, 2002July 12, 2002 -- The biometrics industry in the United States has consisted largely of small companies unable to offer a complete product line. That's changing. Identix, Inc. and Visionics Corp., two of the leading biometrics vendors, have completed their merger and can now offer a comprehensive line of fingerprint and facial recognition products.

Identix and Visionics had been conducting on-again, off-again negotiations for several years, according to Frances Zelazny, a spokesperson for Identix. But the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 gave new impetus to a merger.

"Airports are using fingerprinting for background checks and access control, as well as facial recognition to try to identify potential terrorists," she says. "In light of that, it made sense to combine the two companies. It gives us the ability to service the needs of very large end users."

Identix was founded back in 1982 to provide fingerprint biometrics technology. It went public in 1985 and acquired several smaller companies over the years. Its strength was in live scan fingerprint technology -- that is, hardware that can take an electronic fingerprint and compare it with fingerprints stored in massive databases. It also has low-end fingerprint technology for access control devices, as well as software development kits.

Visionics Corp. itself was the product of last year's merger between Visionics Corp. and Digital Biometrics. Visionics strength was in facial recognition software. It licensed its technology to partners who created off-the-shelf products that worked with closed circuit television systems.

Visionics also had live scan finger print technology, but it focused on portable machines as well as on a wireless device that could scan a face or a fingerprint and transmit the data remotely. The combined and rationalized product line consists of the following:

* FaceIt ARGUS facial recognition system

* Fingerscan V20 and D20 fingerprint access control

* IBIS mobile identification for fingerprint and facial biometrics

* A variety of desktop and mobile live-scan devices for capturing forensic quality fingerprint, palm-print and handprint images

* Identity Management Framework security platforms

* BioLogon middleware

In a recent report by Frost & Sullivan, analyst Prianka Chopra gave the merger the thumbs up. "The immediate advantage of this merger is the opportunity to accelerate growth by the up-sell and cross-sell of products between the two companies," he wrote. "It will build on each company's security technologies and strengths in biometrics technologies."

On a pro forma basis, the combined company had revenue of more than US$110 million in 2001. Chopra expects to see a lot more mergers in the biometrics field as competitors try to assemble product lines to compete with Identix.
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