Biometric Sensor and Preboot Software Lock Down Laptops

A handful of companies has for a number of years been pitching biometric sensors as the best protection for portable PCs and other electronics, and the technology is catching on with some enterprise-IT departments. But a technology such as a fingerprint sensor needs software support to supplant or complement a password in protecting notebook-PC data. So, Fujitsu Microelectronics turned to software partners Phoenix Technologies and Cogent Systems for support in launching its latest sweep sensor, the MBF 320.

The trio is offering a fingerprint sensor that is active before the operating system boots in a package that eases OEM-implementation challenges. Although you must configure the USB 2.0-based sensor at the operating-system level, it operates at the BIOS level after configuration. Phoenix supports the sensor in its TrustedCore firmware, and more than 50% of the company's BIOS customers now ship the TrustedCore software. Meanwhile, Cogent provides the fingerprint-matching engine that the TrustedCore BIOS hosts. The three components offer OEMs a turnkey approach to adding biometric security.

The Fujitsu sensor hosts a 500-dpi, 8Ă—256-pixel sensing array and 8-bit gray-scale depth. The sensor includes an automatic-finger-detection feature that wakes the sensor. In standby mode, the sensor sips less than 200 µA of current. When active, the sensor draws less than 12 mA of current. Samples are now available for $5 (1000). The software bundle also supports Fujitsu's older, 2-D MBF 200 single-touch sensor.

Fujitsu Microelectronics , http://us.fujitsu.com/micro/biometricsensors .

Phoenix Technologies , www.phoenix.com .

Cogent Systems , www.cogentsystems.com .

<<EDN -- 09/04/06>>

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