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Fingerprint sensor touts security

Posted: 16 Mar 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:aes2510? authentic? sensor? entrepad 1510? trueprint technology?

A new tinier biometric fingerprint sensor from AuthenTec combines security, navigation and personalization functionality in the industry's smallest package for cellphones. Touting a 33 percent smaller footprint than comparable sensors, the new low-cost EntrePad 1510 features the company's TruePrint technology and its newest approach to biometrics called "The Power of Touch." Plus, it's low cost, easy-to-use and provides speedy fingerprint imaging and motion.

What AuthenTec has done is to take biometric technology one step further beyond secure user authentication into the arena of navigation and personalization features. So this new all-in-one sensor can provide both a high level of security and touch-powered features and functions for cell phones.

This tiny sensor, which measures 12-by-5mm, is the first to feature AuthenTec's "The Power of Touch" approach, which enables cellphone designers to easily incorporate new features and functions for security, navigation, or personalization that are controlled by a touch or the swipe of a finger.

"The 'Power of Touch' goes well beyond the classical security area of biometrics, and adds the element of convenience, making security practical, as well as providing personalization and navigation functionality," said Scott Moody, president and CEO of AuthenTec.

Initially, cellphone manufacturers focused on personal security to protect personal user information such as contact lists, photos and e-mail, Moody said. Today, cellphone makers are extending the idea of personal security to M-commerce, he said. Already in Japan, near field communications chips embedded with encryption technologies are being integrated into cell phones, allowing the phone to act as a credit card by using a fingerprint sensor to authenticate the transaction.

Built on AuthenTec's TruePrint RF-imaging technology, the EntrPad 1510 provides a reliable security solution for the wireless market. Unlike competitive surface-based solutions that read the top layer of a fingerprint, said the company, AuthenTec's TruePrint technology reads below the surface, enabling it to read virtually anyone's fingerprint.

This new sensor also includes several key new capabilities. For security applications, the new sensor helps protect personal or business data, images and other important information from theft or fraud as well as enables M-commerce and wireless banking. It also allows users to easily open applications or to operate functions with the touch of a finger rather than with passwords or multiple keypad strokes.

Particularly targeting wireless gaming applications, advanced navigation features provide a wide range of finger speed and direction detection including scroll wheel and full motion navigation to replace keypads or other devices. It also enables easy control of screen menus and graphical content.

The primary driver behind "The Power of Touch" for navigation is to improve the gaming experience on the cellphone. The idea of using the fingerprint sensor for navigation is to eventually replace the mechanical button and use it as a joystick in every direction and at every speed, Moody said.

Personalization opens the door to a new world of wireless features, giving users nearly unlimited ways to personalize their phones. This allows users to personalize their cellphones with features such as multi-finger speed dial, individualized buddy lists and other functions. For example, it offers users the potential of setting each of their fingers for different tasks.

The new sensor also provides for easy integration by providing multiple system interfaces including 4bit parallel and synchronous serial interfaces. The master-mode SSI permits image capture via a SMA channel, which eliminates the need for the application processor to obtain images or navigation data.

This brings us to the issue of power consumption. Key features, developed specifically for cellphone designers, are the device's low power consumption and minimal system CPU loading. Once again AuthenTec has significantly reduced the processor load whether the sensor is being used in imaging or navigation mode. Power consumption (at 2.5V) is 35mA for peak imaging and less than 0.3mA for finger detection and less than 3.5mA in navigation mode.

The company also touts that the EntrPad 1510 is the fastest sensor in the industry, which enables cellphones to quickly acquire finger images for authentication and detect motion for smoother navigation and gaming performance. Finger motion capture (in all directions) is rated at greater than 500mm/s and image capture is rated at greater than 1,500fps. This is faster than AuthenTec's previous introduction, the AES2510, with an image capture of 240fps.

The sensor is also extremely rugged, with scratch and impact resistance including wear and rub-resistance in excess of 10 million finger rubs.

The company also provides hardware, software and support for integration. This includes sensor control, fingerprint matching algorithms, and device drivers for Microsoft Windows Mobile, Symbian 6.1, 8.x, Qualcomm REX and Linux.

Packaged in an ultra-small 40 ball grid array package, the 12-by-5mm EntrePad 1510 is available in two thickness of 1.20mm and 1.86mm. The new device is priced at less than $5 in volume quantities.

- Gina Roos

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