Companies ready wearable ID system

Microvision and Robotic Vision Systems team up to market a biometric identification device to the U.S. government and commercial businesses.

Microvision and Robotic Vision Systems have teamed up to market a wearable biometric identification device to the U.S. government and commercial businesses, the companies said Tuesday.

Biometrics technology, which uses retinal scans, fingerprinting and other biological markers for personal identification, has been of huge interest since Sept. 11, when terrorist attacks fixed the government's attention on national and airline security. But even before then, the technology was gaining attention as companies started to implement it for more everyday uses such as driver's licenses with embedded microchips.

Microvision, which makes light-scanning technologies, and Robotic Vision Systems, maker of machine vision and bar-code technology, said their new mobile identification system will target the government's national defense program and private industries.

The system will combine Microvision's Nomad Personal Display System and Robotic Vision Systems' ID Trace biometric authentication technology. The companies plan to co-market the system, which could be used to verify identity, and control access to naval and military bases, as well as high-security civilian buildings.

The system includes a wearable display that identifies the individual in question, is readable in brightly lit environments and may be used outdoors. Information stored in the tamper-resistant device can be encrypted or changed frequently for even higher levels of security, the companies said.

Despite the growing interest in biometrics, analysts are skeptical about the technology's effectiveness, due in part to the public's reluctance to embrace "smart cards"--which would embed biometric information on a chip--and to concerns about error rates in technologies such as facial recognition.