Your face is your password

Toronto company introduces 3D DeskCam that uses infrared and a lens to identify faces.

Joris Evers Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Joris Evers covers security.
Joris Evers
2 min read

"Identity confirmed. Identity confirmed. Identity confirmed. Identity confirmed."

Trying out Bioscrypt's new 3D DeskCam can quickly get annoying. The camera uses infrared and a lens to identify faces. The test setup the company let me play with did that continually, as opposed to only when logging in to a PC, accessing a secured network or a Web site. As a result, the voice in the application kept repeating: "Identity confirmed."

Bioscrypt, based in Toronto, announced the 3D DeskCam on Wednesday at a security conference in Las Vegas. The company claims an industry first: the 3-inch tall, half-inch wide camera scans a face in three dimensions and is meant to authenticate users accessing computers and Web sites.

The camera uses about 40,000 identification points, looking primarily at a person's forehead, eye sockets and nose. The facial recognition system has passed tests with identical twins and professional face molds. Shaving all your facial hair (or growing some) won't affect it, but plastic surgery will, according to Bioscrypt.

The 3D DeskCam can remove the need for passwords, tokens or smart cards to log on to a computer or online services, according to Bioscrypt.

For consumers, the 3D feature can also help create avatars that actually look like the individual for use in gaming and instant-message applications.

Bioscrypt pitches facial scanning as a user-friendly alternative to other biometric security systems. Iris scanning can be kind of creepy because it requires you to look closely into a scanner, and fingerprint readers require touching a device.

The 3D DeskCam, priced at $350, is slated to be available in the second half of 2007. Initially, Bioscrypt is targeting business users, but the device could be available to consumers by the end of the year or early next year. When produced in higher volume, the price should come down to around $200, according to Bioscrypt.