Electronics firm Fujitsu is eyeing a variation on the centuries-old art of palmistry as the latest biometric weapon against unauthorised access to computer systems and facilities.
The company has developed a computer mouse that will scan the palm of the user to verify the identity of that person.
The mouse, which is still only a prototype, was developed by Fujitsu Laboratories researcher Masaki Watanabe as a platform to demonstrate his recently developed palm-scanner.
It works by shining an infrared light on to the palm, which illuminates the veins just under the skin. The veins can be identified by the dark reflection that is returned and the scanner can then take a snapshot of the palm.
The snapshot is then matched with stored patterns of authorised users as the final stage of a process that takes less than one second to complete, according to the researcher.
To test the system, Fujitsu conducted an experiment by attempting to identify each of 700 people whose palms had previously been registered in a database and the system achieved an error rate of 0.5 percent or less.
In biometric terms, according to Watanabe, the system offers a level of security about the same as fingerprint systems, placing it below iris recognition but above voice and face recognition in the security stakes.
Fujitsu plans to commercialise the technology by the end of the current fiscal year, which runs until the end of March 2003, although it has yet to decide in what application it may first appear.
The computer mouse was designed to prove and demonstrate the system and Watanabe said it might appear first in some other form, perhaps as a wall-mounted scanner for use in building access security systems.