Bits & Bytes
Soon, Your Fingers Will Get You in the Door
IF YOU'RE TIRED OF LOSING THE MAGNETIC SECURITY CARD TO YOUR OFFICE, the solution may be at your fingertips.
Sony Corp. just released its Sony Fingerprint Identification Terminal (FIT-100), which lets you open a security door by pressing your finger to a computerized pad. Using technology from I/O Software Inc. in Riverside, Calif., the device takes a digital picture of your fingerprint and checks it against 3,000 prints on file. Verification takes less than a second. If you're really you, open sesame.
The terminal consists of the fingerprint-identification unit, a keypad (so a PIN number can also be used), an LCD screen (to tell you if you passed the test), and an optional smart-card reader. The terminals, which cost $1,600 each, will soon be made available to security-door makers. In 6 to 12 months, the systems should be in use. Down the line, fingerprint recognition could also be built into automobiles or home-security systems.
The idea to use fingerprints for security was developed because magnetic cards and PIN numbers can be stolen, forged, or duplicated, says Steve Wong, I/O Software's marketing manager.
Oh, and don't worry about James Bond-style intruders getting through by using molded plastic copies of your prints. "The Sony FIT-100 only detects real fingers," says Wong.EDITED BY PETER ELSTROMReturn to top
Online Radio: A Sleeping Giant of a Market?
AS THE INTERNET BOOMS, SO does the popularity of Net radio. A recent study released by the Arbitron Co. and Edison Media Research reveals that 13% of the American public has listened to the radio online--twice the figure reported six months ago. Among Internet users, one in four has tuned in to online radio.
The findings send a loud message to the radio industry: There's a growing E-commerce market to be tapped. Of consumers buying music online, 23% say they would prefer to do so from radio station Web sites. What's more, Web sites, unlike traditional radio, let advertisers show what products look like and provide coupons to clip. "By embracing the Internet, [radio stations] become a whole lot more than just radio," says Greg Verdino, vice-president and general manager for Arbitron NewMedia Internet Services. Time to log on to your favorite show.EDITED BY PETER ELSTROMReturn to top
Online Radio Hits the High Notes
Survey of 1,350 Americans
People today who say they have listened to the radio 13%
over the Net
People six months ago who said they had listened to 6%
the radio over the Net
Online users who say they prefer buying music from radio 23%
station Web sites
DATA: ARBITRON/EDISON MEDIA RESEARCH
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Go Out and Create a Memory Hog
EXECUTIVES WORRIED ABOUT THEIR COMPANIES' GROWTH PROSPECTS may want to take a look at how Seagate Technology Inc. is planning to boost sales in the future.
The maker of hard drives for everything from laptops to mainframes is putting up $25 million in venture capital to provide seed money for startups that are developing storage-intensive products. The company expects to begin doling out the first few million in cash within the next six months. When it does, it will select companies by consulting with Silicon Valley's biggest venture-capital firms. In many cases, Seagate will invest in new companies alongside venture capitalists.
Seagate's move is similar to investment strategies by other technology giants such as Intel Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. There is a difference, however: Those corporate capitalists typically invest in startups that eventually buy products directly from the funding corporation. Seagate simply hopes the companies it funds develop hefty applications--such as video E-mail--so computer buyers will need more storage space.EDITED BY PETER ELSTROMReturn to top