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Zwipe Offers Fingerprint-Authenticated RFID Access-Control Card

The passive RFID card has a built-in fingerprint scanner to verify a user's identity and make sure that only authorized personnel gain entrance to a facility.
By Claire Swedberg

Because the individual's fingerprint is stored only in the card's own memory, Humborstad says, that fingerprint data is not accessible by anyone else.

When Humborstad and his colleague graduated in 2009, they launched the business and began developing the solution. The card was tested by TUC beginning one year ago, with about 10 readers and approximately 20 cards carried by personnel. The college has since purchased the technology, and plans to expand how it uses the solution for offices or for other purposes. The law firm began testing the system in spring 2012 with another 10 readers at offices, a main entrance, a vending machine and a printer, as well as about 20 cards, and presently continues piloting the technology. The initial card incorporated a battery to power the fingerprint scanner before the NFC tag responds to the reader's interrogation. However, Humborstad notes, future versions of the card, including those now being marketed, will be entirely passive—the fingerprint scanner will harvest energy from the NFC reader.

Zwipe's Kim Kristian Humborstad
With the early battery-powered version, a new user would receive the card, activate it via a power switch and then follow a series of prompts directing that person to input identification information, as well as present his or her thumb or other finger (Zwipe recommends using the thumb) to the scanner in order to store that print in the device. With the passive version, users would be able to do this by plugging the card into a computer with a USB connection.

"The big advantage for this card is privacy," Humborstad states. "There is no database somewhere with your information." The cards, which are manufactured for Zwipe by a third party, are more expensive than a non-fingerprint-scanning version, he says, but the company has striven to keep prices affordable. He adds that the NFC readers themselves need not be very expensive, and could operate either as a standalone system or with a Wi-Fi connection if access data was being stored on a server offsite. The Zwipe technology does not require special software, he explains, but simply operates with an access-control system's existing software.

The card, which Zwipe plans to offer through two distribution companies starting sometime in 2014, can be read by a user's existing NFC readers, Humborstad reports. In the future, he says, Zwipe intends to offer an LF version of its solution as well.

Earlier this month, Zwipe announced that it had raised an additional $3.5 million in Series A funding, with $2.5 million invested through a private placement, and the remaining $1 million in the form of a grant from the Norwegian government. This funding, the company explains, will be used to expand its sales organization, as well as increase its investment in technology development and application.

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