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HID, IR Offer Biometric Smart Card

New smart card will store the shape of a person's hand so they can be positively identified.
Sep 16, 2002September 16, 2002 -- With the increased emphasis on safety and security following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, vendors continue to enhance their product offerings.

HID Corp., a leading maker of smart cards and readers for access control, has revealed that it is working with IR Recognition Systems to offer smart cards that stores the shape of a person's hand so they can be positively identified.

IR Recognition Systems, a division of Ingersoll-Rand, is the world's largest supplier of biometric readers for access control and time and attendance applications. The company is integrating its hand geometry readers with HID's new iCLASS 13.56 MHz read/write contactless smart card technology. Hand geometry technology positively identifies users by the shape and size of their hands.

Many companies use hand geometry to identify employees. It prevents them from swiping a friend's card when the friend is late or hasn't shown up for work. It can also be used to make sure that only authorized personnel enter a building.

The HID iCLASS contactless smart card stores both the user's ID number and hand geometry template on the card. When the user presents his smart card, he is requested to put his hand on the hand reader. His hand's geometry is then compared with the template stored on the card.

In most existing systems, the hand template is stored on a PC, server or the reader itself. There are several advantages to putting the template on the card, according to Nathan Cummings, product engineer for HID. One is that it eliminates the delay in sending templates from the server to the reader. It makes it possible to add an unlimited number of users to the system.

And it increases the user's sense of privacy. "The employee has control over his own template because he's carrying it around in his pocket," he says. "It makes some people feel better knowing that it isn't sitting on a server that can be hacked into."

Combining an RFID smart card with biometrics adds an extra layer of security. The hand recognition technology binds the owner to the card, so companies don't have to worry about a lost or stolen card being used to gain unauthorized access to a building. Another layer can be added by requiring a user to type in a personal identification number to enter a secure area.

IR showed off a working prototype recently and is in the final phases of integrating the product. An iCLASS RFID smart card reader will be embedded into an IR Recognition Systems HandReader. A plastic cardholder will be attached to the side of the unit, enabling single hand operation. The verification process takes about one second and is said to be virtually 100 percent accurate.

The data on the card is encrypted using a 64-bit diversified key. After a card and hand reader authenticate one another, the reader reads and decrypts the card data.

IR Recognition Systems will sell the combined solution. Bill Spence, IR's director of marketing, says his company was getting inquiries about such a solution from companies involved in Homeland Security projects related to container ports and airports.
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