Startup Tascent Launches Biometric Security Device for iPhone

Tascent M6, which can be used for iris scanning, voice, facial recognition or fingerprints, has been used in several applications around the world.

tascent biometric security

iPhones represent a lot of functionality to millions of users, but never before has the ubiquitous Apple smartphone been a biometrics security device.

Tascent, which for 18 months had been focused on iris-recognition in two airport terminals (Gatwick Airport's South Terminal in Horley, England, and Dubai International), has branched out big time in a new direction. The small Los Gatos, Calif.-based company on July 20 launched a new mobile biometric device, Tascent M6, into which an Apple iPhone 6 or 6s can be placed to form a multimodal biometric platform for a wide range of identification applications.

Tascent M6, which can be used for iris scanning, voice, facial recognition or fingerprints, has been fully tested and used in real time in several applications around the world. The software and hardware in the M6 takes full advantage of iPhone 6 capabilities.

When the iPhone is placed into the M6, it takes on the appearance of a ruggedized phone. (See photo.)

The device could eventually open a new market for mobile biometrics, thanks to its combination of iPhone familiarity, small form factor, biometric performance and open-architecture approach.

It certainly doesn't hurt that there are currently about 505 million iPhone users in the world. Apple has sold more than 700 million iPhones in its 9-year history, CEO Tim Cook has said.

Tascent also is looking at establishing a new developer community. Partners will be able to develop custom applications using the Tascent Mobile SDK, Tascent CEO and co-founder Dean Senner told eWEEK.

Previously, biometrics for iris scanning, facial recognition and fingerprints were commonly used in high-security sectors such as government, military and science use cases, but not nearly as much in the consumer world. That is changing, Senner said.

"We've seen a real change in the general acceptance of biometric security during the past few years, such as in the areas of financial services, travel, aviation and health care," Senner said. "It's an exciting time in the business—and for us—to see biometrics go mainstream."

The M6 is offered in two configurations: one is for fingerprint, face, and voice biometrics, and the other for all four modalities: iris, fingerprint, face and voice. Tascent M6 is powered by high-end biometric sensors, including Tascent's advanced iris imaging system and Integrated Biometrics' Sherlock fingerprint sensor.

Tascent M6 can do dual-eye iris capture and dual-print or rolled fingerprint capture, even in bright sunlight. M6 has received the FBI's rigorous Appendix F FAP45 certification for fingerprint capture and adheres to international standards for biometric and product performance, Senner said.

The Made for iPhone product features FIPS 140-2-certified encryption, MDM readiness, and advanced wireless communications and uses the iPhone's GPS and iSight camera.

Tascent has raked in a total of $36.75 million in venture capital from Tano Capital within the last 10 months, according to Crunchbase.

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...