Chandler, AZ —It's like a scene from the opening sequence of the 70's TV show "Get Smart," when Special Agent Maxwell Smart walks through an endless series of locked doors, opening each with a wave of his hand.
The technology of biometrics is familiar: it uses a person's face, eye, voice, or fingerprint as a unique key, capable of permitting access to physical locks (such as car doors) or computer logon scripts. But until recently, the basic Charger Coupled Device (CCD) type has had three problems: it cost too much; it could not integrate other circuits on the same piece of silicon; and it needed multiple voltages to drive it.
Now Motorola and Identix have teamed to produce the DFR 300®. This optical biometric reader is designed for small size and cost, while retaining high security, for applications in e-commerce, PCs, autos, wireless communications, and financial services.
How did it avoid the CCD pitfalls? Motorola's CMOS architecture has the answers: it costs less; it can be run on a single 3V source; and the microprocessor can be built onto the same piece of silicon, for true camera-on-a-chip technology, says Steve Sheard, Motorola's tactical marketing engineer for image MOS.
That's because a CMOS (complementary) integrated circuit uses PMOS and NMOS (positive and negative) transistors wired together to provide better performance and less energy drain. The CMOS design also achieves a 40% cost reduction from Identix' previous reader (the DFR 200), and a significant size reduction. For IT applications such as keyboards or laptops, the DFR 300 will use Identix' BioLogon™2.0 fingerprint security software.
Since the DFR 300 measures 4.5 mm thick, it can fit into a PCMCIA card, and plug right into the side of a PC, Sheard says. These are both features aimed at wooing the portable appliance market, for applications like unlocking your car door, logging on to your computer, or ensuring that only you can use your cell phone.
What's next? Motorola plans to release a 2.7V version in 2001, and a 1V version in 2003. The latter would be aimed for the personal mobile market, since it could run in a cell phone on a single AA battery, he says.
That means the biometric technology would easily fit into a Palm-type organizer, enabling mobile, secure stock trading, while you're sitting at poolside on vacation in the Bahamas. Whether it's a good idea to trade stocks after too many umbrella drinks is another question entirely.