Polaroid Puts the Finger on E-Commerce Security

While Intel struggles with a public relation fiasco in its attempt to provide improved e-commerce security in its upcoming Pentium III chip, Polaroid has announced what might prove to be a superior method for online shopper authentication. Known worldwide for its instant-picture consumer cameras, the company announced a new, “very low cost” finger image scanner for personal computer and network security.

The new device could pave the way for a new generation of e-commerce security devices, which can verify the identity of each online shopper by analyzing an image of the purchaser’s finger, and then matching the information with their credit card data. According to Polaroid, the new finger scanner (PFS-100) is designed to be integrated into computer systems and keyboards.

The finger scanner is about the size of a pack of gum and can be easily integrated into USB (universal serial bus) keyboards and other devices. The PFS-100 scanner uses a CMOS chip manufactured for Polaroid by Atmel Corporation (Nasdaq: ATML), of San Jose, California, and advanced finger image analysis software developed by IBM.

Philip J. Scarfo, vice president for biometrics at Polaroid said the new device is a logical extension of the identification tools and identification document technology developed by Polaroid’s worldwide ID systems business unit. According to the company, Polaroid ID card and biometric technology already authenticates identification documents and their owners, and protects driver’s licenses, passports and other identification documents from tampering and counterfeiting. ID cards from Polaroid can be equipped with computer chips and with software that is important to enabling electronic commerce.

According to Robert S. Murray, president of Polaroid’s Identification and Transaction Systems division, “Identity theft and fraud are serious and growing problems. Annual reported worldwide fraud losses are reported at more than $1 billion. Polaroid recognizes the need to move beyond identification to authentication. The PFS-100 finger image scanner is just one of the devices that will be needed to eliminate PINs and passwords, enhance PC and network security and enable e-commerce.”

Polaroid has been producing driver’s licenses and identification cards for more than 40 years using photographic and, more recently, digital systems. The company currently produces driver’s licenses in 37 U.S. states including California, Texas, Georgia, Hawaii and West Virginia. Polaroid’s Georgia driver’s license solution is reportedly the largest civil biometric system in the world, with more than 5 million drivers carrying licenses protected with fingerprint verification. Internationally, Polaroid produces identification documents for governments in more than 60 countries including Mexico, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Brazil, the United Kingdom, the Philippines, Russia and China.

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