Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio August
BY Bob Walters
BIOMETRICS FOR YOUR PC
Iris and fingerprint scanning are coming to the home and
We’ve all seen those futuristic movies where an
elaborate security system using voice recognition, iris scanning or
fingerprint identification plays a role. Such systems, called
biometrics, are now coming to a PC or network near you. Biometrics,
defined as measurable physical characteristics or personal behavior
traits used to recognize an individual’s identity, have been
researched for many years. One of the first times you might
encounter these technologies is when going through customs at major
airports such as JFK, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco, where
the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (part of the
Department of Homeland Security) has deployed the INS Passenger
Accelerated Service System (INSPASS), which uses a digital
photograph and hand geometry to speed you through customs.
Passengers insert their INSPASS card in a reader and place their
hand on a scanner, which matches the print to the one on file. For
details, go to www.immigration.gov/graphics/howdoi/inspass.htm.
THIS THUMB’S FOR YOU
As we wade deeper into the digital world, many of us are placing
sensitive information on our PCs at home and at work. To protect
files from unauthorized access, one of the least expensive
biometric tools is the fingerprint scanner. Recognition cards and
software cost less than $200.
For example, with the Windows XP operating system’s sign-on
process, users can set up separate identities on one PC; each user
has access only to his personal files if the security is set up
properly and does not allow files to be shared.
Once a user’s fingerprint is tied to his user profile, he
accesses his files by placing his finger on the electronic reader
pad and is logged in. If he tries to switch users without borrowing
someone else’s finger he will not be allowed in.
In the workplace, there’s no more need to remember passwords
when you move from machine to machine; simply place your finger on
the pad and you’re logged on.
Affordable cards ($150 to $250) are available from Targus (www.targus.com/accessories_security.asp).
FOR YOUR EYES ONLY
Also becoming more affordable these days is iris recognition. More
accurate and less invasive than retina scanning, iris recognition
also is more unique one developer puts the odds of finding a match
at 1 in 10 to the 78th power (a very big number). Iris scanners,
accurate from a distance of 20 inches, can be attached to a PC via
a USB port.
Two providers of scanners and software are Iridian Technologies
and Panasonic (www.panasonic.com/iris). The devices are about the size
of a small video camera and cost approximately $250.
WHICH TO CHOOSE
While fingerprinting is probably the easiest and least intrusive,
iris scanning will provide a higher level of security. Both
processes are easy to set up and deploy. Voice verification
technology is another approach; however, computers take a while to
“learn” users’ voice patterns, and the level of security is not as
Also note that scanning is less expensive than voice
verification and requires minimal technical expertise to run.
ON THE SHOW FLOORBob
Walters, based in Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, is the
founder of Phoenix Solutions and developer of MeetingTrak
Both fingerprint and iris-scanning could be deployed to identify
attendees. The difficulty would be getting everyone set up
initially. However, once that hurdle is overcome, you don’t have to
reissue cards fingers and eyes don’t get lost too often, and we
certainly wouldn’t expect anyone to pass them on to other
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