Sony to release Mac fingerprint ID solution

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Sony will be releasing a Mac-specific addition to their biometric product line this spring. The FIU600 unit will offer fingerprint identification for, among other things, logging into Mac OS X.

"Sony's been in the field of fingerprint security for over six years now," John Harris, Sony's biometric marketing manager, told MacCentral. "Our first product of the kind for the Mac platform introduces the third generation of our software.

Sony's biometric solution is being developed for Mac OS X 10.2 ("Jaguar") and higher. Harris said that Apple has implemented a number of authentication features into the operating system. Users can rely on a bit more security than in the past (especially compared to the traditional Mac operating system), but the problem is that the Mac OS still relies on passwords.

"But our biometric solution will let you replace your passwords with fingerprints," Harris said. "You'll be able to log into Mac OS X without having to type a password."

The hardware portion of the fingerprint solution (a USB device) is complete. The software is still in the works, but Sony was showing a beta version last week at the Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco -- the software should be completed by March or April.

"We're also hoping that the software will include fingerprint links to key chaining and have some file encryption features," said Harris. "Instead of tying security to passwords, which a user can forget, we'll tie it to fingerprinting instead. And you can't 'forget' your fingerprints. We're focusing on bringing a higher level of security to end users."

Pricing for the Sony biometric solution is expected to be in the US$149 to $199 range. All of the fingerprint storage and matching will be done by the hardware device itself, not by the operating system.

"We think we'll have some nice features for corporations and the business-to-business market, as well as end users," Harris said. "And there may be applications for this in the education marketplace, too."

This story, "Sony to release Mac fingerprint ID solution" was originally published by PCWorld.

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