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.