An Eye on Biometrics

Panasonic device lowers point of entry, but iris recognition is still nascent.

As biometric security goes, fingerprint recognition systems may be less expensive, but the eyes have it. The iris is the most unique identifier on the human body, but it has been the focus of few biometric efforts. The reason: Iris scanning systems have been expensive, slow and often cant work easily in networked environments.

The Panasonic Biometrics Groups $200 Authenticam shows that advanced biometrics are entering the mainstream—and what still needs to be done.

The Authenticams price alone is an eye-opener, bringing the cost of sophisticated iris scanning technology closer to fingerprint recognition systems, which are roughly $100 per system. The price of biometric devices in general should continue to drop over the next few years, becoming a fraction of the cost of implementing single-sign-on authentication necessary for network deployment of biometrics.

However, the target market for the Authenticam package is unclear. The products Web camera capabil- ities, its price and its packaging—part of which focuses on storing user names and passwords for Web sites accessed via Microsoft Corp.s Internet Explorer—make it suitable for consumers. Its rare, however, for consumers to require such tight security on their workstations. A better target would be midsize companies that need absolute security on one or two of their computers or larger companies requiring access to designated locations within their facilities.