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October 2, 1997updated 03 Sep 2016 6:41pm

THOMSON & OXFORD MICRO TO CUT COST OF FINGERPRINT SECURITY

By CBR Staff Writer

Thomson CSF Semiconducteurs Specifiques, a wholly-owned subsidiary of defense and electronics giant Thomson CSF SA, is working with Oxford Micro Devices to bring the costs of fingerprint security tumbling down and make it accessible to a much wider audience. Currently, Thomson CSF says it takes a Pentium-level processor to process the capture and verification algorithms for fingerprint security systems. This means it is not only too expensive, but also the processor would be too physically large and power-consuming for applications such as door entry systems for example. By connecting its FingerChip fingerprint sensor chip with Oxford Micro’s A236 Video DSP Digital Signal Processor chip, Thomson CSF says it will provide a hardware system for processing and reconstructing the fingerprint image, which brings the physical size of the device down at present to smaller than a credit card-sized calculator. Oxford Micro, whose typical market is in image processing, editing and special effects systems, is working on making the DSP at least 50% smaller in future. The companies are in the process of prototyping the system, and are actively seeking input from potential customers as to exactly how they will wish to use it. They have already seen a lot of interest from car electronics manufacturers, who could put a DSP in the vehicle, and a sensor on the door, so that only the authorized people could get into the vehicle. Thomson CSF also sees a big market in residential security systems, where home owners could use fingerprints to disable alarm systems in preference to keying in a code, which could more easily be hacked. The system would also connect into personal computer systems, for use for example with electronic commerce systems on the internet for authentication and authorization. John Harris, head of FingerChip marketing at Thomson CSF, says biometrics has always been viewed as too expensive, but the use of the combined technologies should bring prices for the fingerprint system down to less than $100, and in volume to as little as $20. Production volumes could begin as early as December.

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