Startup Raises Millions For A Fingerprint Card

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Feb 12, 2014

Access control does not get a lot of love or money but one company is trying to buck this trend.

Zwipe has grabbed attention and investment dollars of VCs, recently raising $3.5 million to increase sales and marketing efforts to Access Control OEMs, sidestepping direct competition from existing credential manufacturers. The company is bolstered by more than cash. Indeed, Zwipe's Board Chairman is an access control veteran, with positions as both North America President and Executive VP of ASSA ABLOY and more recently with physical security/door and hardware companies.

We examine the company in this note and see if it is poised to change the access market. 

Zwipe Overview

Usually adding biometrics to an access control system means outfitting special readers at every door. Not only can this best costly, it can be difficult maintaining large volumes of fingerprints so that systems are still quick and accurate.

Zwipe takes a different approach.  Rather than adding a standalone reader to the door, they are producing a credential that only works after a valid fingerprint unlocks it.

The short video below gives a overview of how the card is programmed and used:

Following the process of turning on the reader, an enrolled fingerprint is scanned which then allows the data on the card to be exchanged by the reader. The card is built to work with existing readers and requires no modification to the underlying Access Control system. Other key features include:

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

  • Capacitive Sensor: The fingerprint reader is a low-current touch type, similar to the readers found on Apple's iPhone 5S Touch ID.
  • No HID Support: Currently Zwipe is limited to 'open' Mifare/Desfire formats. When asked about expanding to 'licensed' HID formats, the company replied '(adding) HID formats are an interesting opportunity that we are pursuing."
  • Inductive or Battery Powered: The card has two power source options. It is available with an on-board battery or can be resonantly powered by existing readers in the same way 'contactless' credentials are energized.
  • On-Card Enrollment: Adding valid fingerprints to the card happens on the card by following a sequence of LED prompts. Up to three fingers can be enrolled, and each scan is collected six times during enrollment to ensure a good template is used.
  • Cost: Zwipe currently sells a kit of four cards for $250, at a cost of ~$65 per card. This is a sharp contrast from standard contactless cards that range from $15 to just a few pennies each.

The physical shape of the card is similar to a standard CR80 size, but is thicker and more rigid. The Zwipe cannot be stored in standard lanyards or wallets, but rather take room comparable to smartphones in pockets.

Operation

Users must be trained to use their credentials different when employing Zwipe. Instead of just waving a card close to a reader, the user must present the card, push a button, and then scan a finger before the card is read. In most cases, this does no add significant type to the process of entering, and with practice can be done in less than five seconds.

Zwipe is similar to HID's Gesture Patent idea in that the credential is unlocked for reading only after the user validates their identity.  While the Gesture Idea uses 'something you know' (a series of movements) to unlock the card, Zwipe uses 'something you are' (a fingerprint scan). Until a successful scan opens the card, it cannot be read by a reader.  

Key Benefits

The fingerprint card has several good attributes, including:

  • No Changes Needed: Using Zwipe with existing systems requires no modification or reconfiguration. 
  • Adds Multifactor, without Overhead: Enterprises looking to add another layer of indentity security to access control can do so immediately with Zwipe. Instead of installing central readers and organizing an enrollment program that may take days, cardholders can enroll fingerprints and begin using Zwipe in five minutes or less.
  • No Credential Misuse: The security of the credential is improved, since cards cannot be stolen or lost and potentially misused. Indeed, even classic operational problems like Passback are thwarted by the requirement of a specific person to use a card and no one else.

Biggest Drawbacks

However, Zwipe faces some big obstacles before it becomes a common solution:

  • No HID support: A showstopper for many is the lack of Zwipe's support of HID credential formats.  Especially in North America, Mifare and Desfire formats are not common and changing systems over to recognize those formats are costly. This essentially limits the appeal of Zwipe to EMEA.
  • Contactless Only: Not all credentials are contactless. Indeed, many 'smartcards' also include a contact-chip credential used to verify the authenticity of the card. Zwipe offers no 'contact' option, and the physical size of the card excludes it from being used for many 'high security' implementations that require it.
  • Expensive: The bottom line for credential selection is just that: how much they cost. Usually credentials are designed to be inexpensive and semi-disposable and still deliver security, primarily via "Security through Obscurity". Adding biometrics is simply too costly, as it usually comes in the form of adding specialized readers costing $500 or more per device. 

Typical Applications

Compared to most contactless credentials, Zwipe is 5 or 6 times the cost.  Especially for systems with a pool of cardholders numbering more than fifteen or twenty, issuing Zwipe card to each will cost more than $1000. This is contrasted against outfitting fingerprint readers at controlled doors at a cost of $500 or less per door using budget readers.

Zwipe will make the most economic sense for those with a relative small number of cardholders (<20) and multiple controlled doors (>4).

 

1 report cite this report:

Testing Zwipe Fingerprint Card on Jul 23, 2015
By embedding a fingerprint reader into an access control card, Zwipe claims it can increase security without requiring facilities to new /...
Comments (19): PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Vulnerability Directory For Access Control Cards on Aug 14, 2017
Knowing which access credentials are insecure can be unclear, especially because most look and feel the same. Even the most insecure 125 kHz types...
Competing Against G4S on Aug 09, 2017
G4S Secure Solutions is a global company, operating in multiple countries and offering a suite of products and services from guards to their AMAG...
ONVIF Releases Profile A for Access on Aug 08, 2017
ONVIF has struggled so far in access control. In 2014, ONVIF released Profile C for access control, but in the 3 years since, only 2 companies...
Access Control Commissioning / Install Checklist on Aug 03, 2017
This 80+ point checklist helps end users, integrators and consultants verify that access control installation is complete. It covers the following...
Startup Strops Completely Wireless Surveillance Camera Examined on Jul 28, 2017
European startup Strops has developed a surveillance camera that offers up to 6 days of runtime and cellular communications to create a fully...
Bosch G-Series Intrusion Tested on Jul 26, 2017
Bosch is one of the biggest names in intrusion, and the company's G-Series panels are their most advanced commercial and high-security panels. But...
$28M Drone Detection Startup Examined (Dedrone) on Jul 25, 2017
Dedrone has received ~$28M in funding to build what they call an "automatic anti-drone solution", a system to detect drones, and then automatically...
Smartcard Copier Tested (13.56MHz) on Jul 05, 2017
Copying 125kHz cards is certainly easy, as our test results showed, but how about 13.56MHz smart cards? Are they more secure? IPVM focused on the...
Startup Replacing Passwords With Patterns (Shayype) on Jun 28, 2017
This startup, Shayype, aims to eliminate passwords, replacing them with patterns. Problems with passwords are clear, as simple passwords, re-used...
Milestone / Canon Launch Cloud Startup Arcus Global on Jun 27, 2017
Milestone has spun off a business, Arcus Global, funded by their parent company Canon. The new company aims to transform the VSaaS market with an...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Dahua 4K IR PTZ Tested on Aug 21, 2017
4K has made its way to IR PTZs. In this report, we examine the Dahua 6AE830VNI, a 4K PTZ with 30x optical zoom, 200m (~650') integrated IR, and...
Top Used License Plate Capture Cameras on Aug 21, 2017
Capturing license plates is a common video surveillance application. But what cameras do integrators mostly commonly used? Special purpose LPC...
VLAN For Video Surveillance Usage Statistics on Aug 21, 2017
VLANs (see our tutorial) are an option for networks using video surveillance, but how often are they actually used? 125+ integrators told us how...
Avigilon CEO Attacks Asian Companies Cyber Insecurity on Aug 18, 2017
Avigilon CEO is taking aim at their Asian competitors. And he is going directly after these company's cyber security issues. In this note, we...
Sony Next Gen HD Dome Camera Tested (SNC-EM642R) on Aug 18, 2017
Sony has released their latest generation, claiming improved WDR and low light, increased IR range, and more. We tested the SNC-EM642R outdoor IR...
IP Networking Course September 2017 on Aug 17, 2017
This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance professionals plus it includes live training, personal help and...
Knightscope Raises $10 Million With $3,320 Average Per Investor on Aug 17, 2017
Congrats to Knightscope. And condolences to their legion of little investors. Knightscope has disclosed they have raised $10+ million from their...
Axis and Arecont Legal Conflict Over Multi-Imager Cameras on Aug 17, 2017
Arecont threatened Axis. Axis has responded by moving to invalidate an Arecont patent. It is an important contest. Multi-imagers are Arecont's...
Directory Of Consumer Security Cameras on Aug 16, 2017
The consumer camera segment continues to grow, with new startups and models from existing players released seemingly every month. In this report we...
Cat 5e vs Cat 6 vs Cat 6a Network Cable Usage Statistics on Aug 16, 2017
Cat 5e? Cat 6? Cat 6a? What do integrators use in practice, today? 140+ integrators told IPVM. Here are the results: For those who want to...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact