Talking Biometrics with Bioscrypt''s New CEO

Rob Douglas on new authentication technology, and what the biometric market holds

Last month, Bioscrypt announced that CEO Robert Williams would be stepping down and that Robert Douglas would be grabbing the captain's chair. With a background that includes positions at such companies as Siebel Systems, Oracle Corporation, Pivotal Corporation and recently as president of Psion Teklogix Americas, Douglas brings 22 years in the tech industry, and joined Bioscrypt's board about 2 years ago. Inside Bioscrypt, he's been active as a consultant, looking at scaling the business.

With Douglas' background from the tech sector, it's no surprise that Bioscrypt is heavily pursuing a converged marketplace. The company, perhaps best known for its fingerprint algorithms as used in physical security device, has steadily recognized that access control to the business networks is just as important as access to the physical facility. And with that IT and wireless background, Douglas is seeing a realm of options for the authentication company, just as he sees doors opening to new hardware applications. caught up with Douglas on the phone from the Gartner IT Security Summit for a Q&A on Bioscrypt's technology and where the company might be headed.

"Biometric authentication of users into the enterprise and into the network is definitely on the road map," Douglas said, "and it wouldn't surprise me at all in the next 1 to 3 years that using biometrics as authentication on a mobile device becomes very commonplace.

"Some future things we're digesting include fingerprint technologies in a laptop, maybe on a key fob, or even on a mobile device," Douglas continued. "There could be a day when I authenticate myself to this Blackberry I use so that I could access an enterprise location right from the Blackberry itself, or any mobile device you use."

Significant for Bioscrypt was their recent acquisition of A4Vision, a biometrics firm that had developed unique three-dimensional facial recognition. Bioscrypt began the process of acquiring A4 back in January 2007, and Douglas says that they are now at somewhere around the 90 percent level of fully integrating the two companies. That acquisition, of course, has Douglas thinking about solutions for 3D facial technology, especially in the logical access space.

"We think 3D facial recognition like the technology we acquired from A4Vision could in fact be the camera that's sitting on your laptop," Douglas said. "I think there will be a day where you could look at your laptop and, using that camera, you would be authenticated and would have access to certain applications, depending on who you are. And of course, when you move away from the laptop, it would lock the computer, or close down the applications you had accessed. We're seeing adoption of fingerprints already for this, but we definitely see a day when 3D face would be a way in which you get access to the enterprise from your laptop."

To help that adoption along, Douglas says that Bioscrypt plans to work on miniaturizing its 3D camera (which already is surprisingly small) so that it could fit into laptops or other network-connected devices. For now, however, that 3D facial technology is in what Douglas calls a "very young" and "experimental" market. Nonetheless, he notes that the company is seeing growth in a variety of sectors, including a large bank that is testing 3D facial recognition for authenticating users of its ATM machines. The 3D facial technology is already being used in a Geneva bank for access control.

Back in the world of fingerprints, the company is seeing a good deal of growth, especially when it comes to network authentication.

"The logical access market is growing very quickly but it's a smaller market today," said Douglas. "The physical access market is growing at a lesser rate, but it is a much larger market today. From where we sit, both are quite material to us."

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