Semacap Plc and Logica Plc have joined forces to bid for a multi million pound Home Office pilot project for a national computerised finger print system. The two companies have set up an Automatic Fingerprint Technology Consortium, AFTeC, to bid for the Home Office contract, offering an Inmos International Transputer-based fingerprint storage and recognition system. A police spokesman said the system selected under the pilot project – participants are the Metropolitan Police and Hertfordshire constabulary – will eventually replace the facilities offered by the Police National Computer which is overstretched and is also being upgraded. The current police computer does not have automatic finger-print recognition capability and is feeble in search and retrieval of data. The AFTeC system is expected to automate processes currently being done manually. It will be based on high performance workstations augemented by Inmos Transputers, running at up to 10 times as fast as standard computer-based matching systems. The two companies will develop and implement Transputer-based algorithms for encoding and matching fingerprints. The workstations will be supplied by third parties – our traditional suppliers, say CAP and Logica. The AFTeC system will use algorithms already in use on the Floating Point Array system currently used by Scotland Yard. A Semacap spokesman said the Transputer-based system will be built to hold 1.4m sets of 10 fingerprints – about a third of the national collection – compared with around 70,000 on the current Metropolitan Police system. But the Home Office contract is only a first step for AFTeC. The consortium has been formed with a view to going out and dominating the fingerprint technology market worldwide, which it values at some UKP1,200m. Current market leaders are UK-based De La Rue Plc through its UK subsidiary Printak, and NEC Corp of Japan. AFTec will employ around 30 staff, seconded from Logica and Semacap. The two companies are currently deciding whether to throw membership of the consortium open to other companies. AFTeC’s legal status is also under review and it may be turned into formal joint venture with Limited Company status.