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A mouse that remembers fingerprints

Siemens has a solution for people who constantly forget passwords: a mouse that takes advantage of the unique features of people's fingerprints.

HONG KONG--Siemens has a solution for people who constantly forget computer passwords: a mouse that recognizes fingerprints.

Called the ID Mouse, the device uses biometrics to take advantage of the unique features of people's fingerprints. German electronics maker Siemens, which showed off the ID Mouse this week at the ITU Asia Telecom 2000 fair, said the device works by allowing pre-authorized people to retrieve information from their PCs or laptops.

see roundup: Products abound at Asian conference By lightly tapping the fingertip sensor located at the top of the mouse, the device verifies the fingerprint against reference templates already input into the PC's system. Once a fingerprint is authenticated, the person can then access the PC's main operating system.

Siemens is one of numerous companies headed in the direction of using unique features for identification.

The mouse is powered by 65,000 sensing elements on the 0.25 square-inch fingertip chip that enables the device to scan and capture the fine details of a fingerprint. The system is so sensitive that it will recognize an authorized person even if there is a cut on the fingertip.

For added security, if the mouse user takes a break, the screensaver is activated until the person touches the ID Mouse again.

Other than that, the ID Mouse operates just like any Microsoft mouse. It has a wheel scroll for navigation and requires at least Microsoft Windows 98 and a USB connection.

This week's conference is the International Telecommunications Union's 23rd telecom show since its 1971 debut in Geneva. The six-day fair, which ends Saturday, took place in Hong Kong this year and was expected to attract at least 50,000 visitors from more than 50 countries.

Singapore.CNET.com's Priscilla Wong reported from Hong Kong.