Startup Raises Millions For A Fingerprint Card

By Brian Rhodes, Published Feb 12, 2014, 12:00am EST (Info+)

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 [link no longer available] 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.

** ******* *** ******* ** **** note *** *** ** ** ** poised ** ****** *** ****** ******. 

Zwipe ********

******* ****** ********** ** ** ****** control ****** ***** ********** ******* ******* at ***** ****. *** **** *** this **** ******, ** *** ** difficult *********** ***** ******* ** ************ so **** ******* *** ***** ***** and ********.

***** ***** * ********* ********.  ****** **** ****** * ********** reader ** *** ****, **** *** producing * ********** **** **** ***** after * ***** *********** ******* **.

*** ***** ***** ***** ***** * overview ** *** *** **** ** programmed *** ****:

********* *** ******* ** ******* ** the ******, ** ******** *********** ** scanned ***** **** ****** *** **** on *** **** ** ** ********* by *** ******. *** **** ** built ** **** **** ******** ******* and ******** ** ************ ** *** underlying ****** ******* ******. ***** *** features *******:

  • ********** ******:*** *********** ****** ** * ***-******* touch ****, ******* ** *** ******* found *******'* ****** ** ***** **.
  • ** *** *******:********* ***** ** ******* ** '****' Mifare/Desfire *******. **** ***** ***** ********* to '********' *** *******, *** ******* replied '(******) *** ******* *** ** *********** opportunity **** ** *** ********."
  • ********* ** ******* *******: *** **** *** *** ***** source *******. ** ** ********* **** an **-***** ******* ** *** ************ ********* ******** ******* ** *** **** *** '***********' *********** are *********.
  • **-**** **********:****** ***** ************ ** *** **** happens ** *** **** ** ********* a ******** ** *** *******. ** to ***** ******* *** ** ********, and **** **** ** ********* *** times ****** ********** ** ****** * good ******** ** ****.
  • ****:***** ********* ***** * *** ** four ***** *** $***, ** * cost ** ~$** *** ****. **** is * ***** ******** **** ******** contactless ***** **** ***** **** $** to **** * *** ******* ****.

*** ******** ***** ** *** **** is ******* ** * ******** **** size, *** ** ******* *** **** rigid. ************** ** ****** ** ******** ******** or *******, *** ****** **** **** comparable ** *********** ** *******.

*********

***** **** ** ******* ** *** their *********** ********* **** ********* *****. Instead ** **** ****** * **** close ** * ******, *** **** must ******* *** ****, **** * button, *** **** **** * ****** before *** **** ** ****. ** most *****, **** **** ** *** significant **** ** *** ******* ** entering, *** **** ******** *** ** done ** **** **** **** *******.

***** ** ******* *****'* ******* ****** **** ** **** *** ********** ** unlocked *** ******* **** ***** *** user ********* ***** ********.  ***** *** Gesture **** **** '********* *** ****' (a ****** ** *********) ** ****** the ****,***** **** '********* *** ***' (* *********** scan). ***** * ********** **** ***** *** card, ** ****** ** **** ** a ******.  

Key ********

*** *********** **** *** ******* **** attributes, *********:

  • ** ******* ******: ***** ***** **** ******** ******* requires ** ************ ** ***************. 
  • **** ***********, ******* ********: *********** ******* ** *** ******* layer ******************* ** ****** ******* *** ** so *********** **** *****. ******* ** installing ******* ******* *** ********** ** enrollment ******* **** *** **** ****, cardholders *** ****** ************ *** ***** using ***** ** **** ******* ** less.
  • ** ********** ******: *** ******** ** *** ********** is ********, ***** ***** ****** ** stolen ** **** *** *********** *******. Indeed, *********** *********** ******** **** *********** ******** ** *** *********** ** a ******** ****** ** *** * card *** ** *** ****.

Biggest *********

*******, ***** ***** **** *** ********* ****** it ******* * ****** ********:

  • ** *** *******:* *********** *** **** ** *** lack ** *****'* ******* ** *** credential *******.  ********** ** ***** *******, Mifare *** ******* ******* *** *** common *** ******** ******* **** ** recognize ***** ******* *** ******. **** essentially ****** *** ****** ** ***** to ****.
  • *********** ****: *** *** *********** *** ***********. Indeed, **** '**********' **** ******* * contact-chip ********** **** ** ****** *** authenticity ** *** ****. ***** ****** no '*******' ******, *** *** ******** size ** *** **** ******** ** from ***** **** *** **** '**** security' *************** **** ******* **.
  • *********: *** ****** **** *** ********** ********* is **** ****: *** **** **** cost. ******* *********** *** ******** ** be *********** *** ****-********** *** ***** deliver ********, ********* *** "******** ******* Obscurity". ****** ********** ** ****** *** costly, ** ** ******* ***** ** the **** ** ****** *********** ******* costing $*** ** **** *** ******. 

Typical ************

******** ** **** *********** ***********, ***** is * ** * ***** *** cost.  ********** *** ******* **** * pool ** *********** ********* **** **** fifteen ** ******, ******* ***** **** to **** **** **** **** **** $1000. **** ** ********** ******* ********** fingerprint ******* ** ********** ***** ** a **** **$*** ** **** *** **** ***** budget *******.

***** **** **** *** **** ******** sense *** ***** **** * ******** ***** number ** *********** (controlled ***** (>*).

 

Comments (18)

The idea of checking a biometric on the credential itself, in order to use more standard readers, has been around for close to 10 years or more. A company called Privaris has a key-fob-like product called PlusID which DOES support regular HID prox, iClass and whatnot. I first heard about this in 2007 or so.

I'm not sure how successful Privaris has been with it, but unless Privaris has seen success with their fob, I doubt other players are going to make a dent with a more expensive product that supports fewer reader technologies.

Thanks for sharing this, Jonathan. Do you have a sense of price for PlusID?

That could be a strong differentiator between the two offerings, although I agree with you that at current prices it does not guarantee market success.

I'm not sure how much PlusID cost. Also, I notice that Privaris's web page looks like it hasn't been updated for a while, which might mean they are defunct (which would be another question to the viability of the idea). In any case, the idea is certainly not new nor novel. A simple google search shows similar products by Microlatch and others.

Credentials like these will always be more expensive than a regular prox or smartcard, therefore there will be a card count threshold after which it is cheaper to just install a biometric-capable reader at the door. Storing biometric "templates" on a smart card would provide the same administrative savings as storing them on a Zwipe card, but without the battery issues, and at a lower cost.

Interesting concept, but if the "fingerprint never leaves the card", as they say, how would the access system actually know who it's dealing with?

Obviously, the card has to be issued somehow, but that does seem like a risk and could lead to a false sense of security.

The card is enrolled and held as unique in the access system like any other RFID contactless card. Zwipe uses standard facility codes, ID numbers, etc so the fingerprint part is transparent to the access system.

The difference between Zwipe and other 'contactless' credentials are those details are not available to be read by a reader until a user activates Zwipe (turns it 'on', per se) with a valid fingerprint.

Does that help?

Thanks Brian. It does.

I'm also wondering if the extra cost per card is justifiable. At $50, it is an important difference.

Are there any readily available statistics about the number of cases of illegitimate use of security access cards per year and the average value of losses associated with each?


The other consideration is that the card, I am assuming here, would need to be powered by a battery of some sort. Recharging and keeping the battery charged is also somewhat of a PITA especially if it is flat and you can't get in!

Hello, Hasith:

Zwipe claims it needs no external power, but uses the same resonant collection methods/amplitudes that standard cards use. I'll ask them to clarify this point and give a spec on this.

Thanks for reading.

While your at it, ask if they have issues with Privaris patents. Seems some of the last news on their web page (from 2009) was the awarding of a few patents. As you know in our industry, when companies start trumpeting patent awards as news, that means their business model has changed from product innovation to patent-enforcement.

I will ask about patent issues and report back here. Thanks.

So I asked Zwipe if they have encountered Privaris' patents or any issues regarding 'prior art' claims, and this is the response: "We can not discuss IP in public."

So you actually need to hold it in the reader field before the finger print reader actually works? That's still not exactly convenient...

I agree it sounds awkward. However, after watching the product used in the demo videos, it looks like the process isn't to hard too adapt.

Have concerns regarding the durability of the card in facilities with more harsh work environments. I like the idea of biometrics just waiting for the right fit.

I just gave them a call and spoke to one of the CEOs. Its a very interresting product. The device can be provided blank or can be customized with graphics so replacing existing physical ID cards. The device is also self enrolling which I think is different to the PlusID which I looked at a few years ago.

Break even point replacing existing IDs for this one is reached very quickly if you are a large organization and have turnover. At ~30$ per unit (expected distributors price) it may not suite all customers.

Durability needs to be tested, but if I were to give this to an employee and tell them that this is what gets them paid (timeandattendance systems), then I am sure they will take care of it.

Hello Vasiles:

Just to make things clear, at the current time, you can buy the cards through Farpointe and SALTO for ~$60US each.

Thanks!

Understood. I found this article very informative so I contacted the company directly as I had other interrests in mind.

I recall being approach in 2003 by a small Euro-tech business that cobbled together a swipe style fingerprint reader on a CR80 smart microprocessor card (not just a memory chip card). I liked the idea but the technology (capability/price) and durability showed it needed a lot of R&D $$$ to productize it. A couple years later we did a partnership with the folks at Privaris…basically programming their products with common RFID formats for a fee - at the time it was 125kHz stuff. We did not format very many units and I don’t think they got past the novelty stage. If I recall the dealer pricing was about $200 - $250.

In Zwipe's case there are a few things that are different…the technology is much more powerful and stable. I bet that the form factor will continue to be reduced along with the price in the near future. This is the nature of these kinds of start ups. I am a big fan of multi-factor authentication, but understand you can’t just rip out legacy systems (especially remote sites)…this may be a nice transitional solution down the road.

The world has changed since 2003 and we as consumers already use advanced authentication for our computing devices. Even Apple acquired and has since incorporated a biometric solution for its’ products. I won’t go into the “recent” sorry state of US retailers and payment processors and the glacial pace of implementing EMV requirements (including two factor card authentication). The fact is today you can use your cell phone for access control purposes - by enabling the NFC function combined with PIN or gesture or even biometrics in many cases. Not all apps need this level of security but certainly a lot more should. So I think this is something to watch…perhaps the timing is right?

As for patent issues, I am no lawyer, but I know a lot of prior art exists well before Privaris on these types of systems/methods/processes. Given the industry experience of those invested in this venture – I would imagine they have their bases covered. I will put them on my booth visit list at ISC.

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