Partners to Offer Biometric IDs

Oct. 25, 2002 – Since 9/11, government agencies and corporations around the world have been eager to improve security. One area of focus has been to bind identification cards to the people holding them by storing a unique biometric signature of some kind on the card. Now, a leading card producer and a top biometric company have joined forces to offer an integrated solution.

Datacard Group of Minnetonka, Minn., is one of the world’s largest providers of card printers, laminators, digital cameras and other products for making credit cards. The company also offers software called ID Works that banks, corporations and government agencies use to manage, customize, and issue personalized credit and ID cards.

Identix Inc. (Nasdaq: IDNX), which is also based in Minnetonka, is the largest biometrics company in the United States. It offers systems for capturing, storing and matching biometrics, such as fingerprints and hand geometry.

As part of the agreement, Datacard will offer Identix’s BioEngine fingerprint technology for integration into the Datacard’s ID Works identity software product suite. The integrated solution, which will be done on a custom basis for each implementation, provides additional security by controlling access to locations and networks with biometrically enabled ID cards.

“A multibillion-dollar company may have hundreds of locations around the world that they want to secure in an identical manner. They will have legacy systems in place, and their unique means of integrating these biometric technologies into their legacy systems requires something that’s not a commercial, off-the-shelf solution,” says Kevin Gillick, Datacard’s head of corporate marketing. “Identix and Datacard together would work with that customer to manage the integration of both technologies for their use environment.”

The BioEngine technology enables a company to capture, store and use fingerprints for authentication. Fingerprints can be stored on an RFID contactless chip or printed on the face of the card as a bar code that is mathematically correlated to the details of a unique fingerprint. The bar code can also be encrypted for added protection.

Storing the fingerprint as a bar code is a less expensive solution, but industry watchers believe that over time, companies will embrace contactless RFID chips as the best method of storing biometric data. That’s because the information can remain with the holder of the card, instead of in a database, providing a higher level of privacy. And since the data can be encrypted, it can’t easily be copied or used fraudulently.

Datacard may add other biometrics capabilities in the future, according to Gillick. “What we are hearing from our customers today is tremendous interest in fingerprint technology,” he says. “If we hear there is a strong appetite for additional biometrics, then we will move quickly to provide the mechanism to integrate those technologies into ID Works.”