A Kiwi company hopes to benefit from U.K. biometric ID scheme

Published 6 December 2005

New Zealand company has two advantages: Off-the-shelf device which offers multi-modal biometrics

The U.K. police has shown great interest in the precuts of an Auckland, New Zealand-based Biometrics Technologies New Zealand. The police are especially interested in the company’s handheld Authenti-Mate biometric scanners, which the police would use to assist with on-the-spot identification of suspects. The Authenti-Mate is based on an iPaq 6500 handheld computer and uses the iPaq’s camera and fingerprint scanner to record fingerprints and faces. Biometrics Technologies is working with an overseas company to ensure the device will also be able to carry out iris scans. The Kiwi company already produces a range of Authenti-Kate kiosks which scan fingerprints, faces, and irises and has partnered with international firms to bid for Customs’ and Auckland International Airport’s tender for the supply of self-service border control kiosks.

Biometrics Technologies will come up against tough competition in the international biometrics space, including the likes of Unisys and Sagem which are both also bidding for the Customs contract. Indeed, as we reported a month ago, Sagem opened an office in Auckland last month to better position itself for the growing biometric market in Southeast Asia and the pacific. Biometric Technologies hopes that two characteristics of its product would give it a leg up on the competition: Gregory Hernwood, the company’s managing director, says that the biometrics market has shifted to “multi-modal” authentication devices that can check more than one biometric indicator.; and the company is one of the few biometrics firms to sell a product using off-the-shelf technology. Hernwood believes this gives its products an edge because its handhelds can also be used for everyday tasks such as checking e-mail.

Biometrics Technologies also sells Omais software, which can search through video footage from CCTV cameras for known criminals or terrorist suspects.

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