TOY BOX: Combo-Mini's imprint isn't too strong

One of the stranger facts about my career is that I once wrote about biometrics - using identifiers such as fingerprints, iris scans, face scans, even body odor, to identify people for whatever secure thing it was they needed to do.

One of the stranger facts about my career is that I once wrote about biometrics - using identifiers such as fingerprints, iris scans, face scans, even body odor, to identify people for whatever secure thing it was they needed to do.

Movies that deal with spying or the future are big fans of biometrics, leading everyone to think the technology works flawlessly. But I know from my writing experience that the reason every ATM isn't asking for your fingerprint today is the problem of false matches and non-matches - false positive and false negatives in industry parlance. So I was excited to try a fingerprint reader designed to keep computers secure. The Silex Technology Combo-Mini plugs into a USB port and comes with easy-to-load software. Unfortunately, all I got with it were false negatives. No matter which finger I tried (I tried six), it couldn't successfully scan enough of my print to save it and then identify me later. Either that means I have no fingerprints - perhaps from all the typing I do - or this technology needs a bit more refining. Any suggestions for gadgets we should try? Send them to toybox@prweek.com
  • John N. Frank writes Toy Box. He is the Chicago-based Midwest bureau chief for PRWeek. Price $179 Available at Silex resellers nationally Specs 2.2 x 1.5 x 0.5 inches, 500 DPI resolution; contact fingerprint reader

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