Federal Computer Week (online)
With the increasing popularity of biometric security systems, vendors are looking for ways to make the technology easier to use. The U-Match BioLink Mouse from BioLink Technologies International Inc. takes things a step further, making its fingerprint scanner hard to avoid. With the increasing popularity of biometric security systems, vendors are looking for ways to make the technology easier to use. The U-Match BioLink Mouse from BioLink Technologies International Inc. takes things a step further, making its fingerprint scanner hard to avoid.
The BioLink Mouse features a fingerprint scanner built into the left side of the unit, where a right-handed user’s thumb rests. Once a user account is set up, logging in requires no extra steps or motions because a user’s hand is on the mouse.
Like other fingerprint scanners, the BioLink Mouse uses the image to generate a unique data series that it turns into a file that the company calls a “passport.” Fingerprints are compared and identified based on this passport, and a fingerprint image cannot be reconstructed from it. For maximum accuracy and security, the mouse captures a 140K image with 500 dots-per-inch resolution.
The system is compatible with Microsoft Corp.’s Windows 95 (OSR 2.5), Windows 98 and Windows NT 4.0. It works with networked computers and stand-alone PCs. We tested the system on a stand-alone workstation running Windows NT 4.0.
Installing the BioLink mouse was easy. The hard-copy guide describing software installation is clear, and a wizard takes users through the short process step by step.
The BioLink Authentication System software integrates with the Windows NT User Manager, adding a “BioLink” menu item to the User Manager window. Through this menu item, administrators can access the BioLink Log-on Manager, a window that lists all registered BioLink users.
From the BioLink Log-on Manager, administrators can add and delete users as well as register a new fingerprint for an existing user (only one fingerprint per user can be registered at time). A simple wizard guides the user registration process. The system must capture three good fingerprint images, and we had no trouble at all with this process.
A user’s account can be set to allow password log-on as an alternative to fingerprint log-on, but it cannot be set to require both a password and a fingerprint like other biometric products we’ve seen.
When a BioLink user is logged in to the machine with a fingerprint, only that user’s fingerprint can unlock a locked workstation. Also, if the computer is set to use a password-protected screen saver, the user’s fingerprint is required to gain access.
Those functions work a little differently with Windows NT than with Windows 95/98 because the latter operating system does not have a workstation lock function.
Our biggest beef with the system is the lack of a user’s guide for the Windows NT version. Even though an option on the CD-ROM’s menu says, “Install BioLink Guides,” there was only one user’s guide available, and it took a call to the company’s technical support to figure out it was the Windows 95/98 version only.
However, a BioLink Technologies representative told us that in a few weeks the company will ship a completely different software package with the BioLink Mouse. The new version will include additional features such as file and folder encryption.
One other possible snag for some users: There is no left-handed version of the BioLink Mouse. If a user is left-handed or has a missing or injured right thumb, he or she can still use the BioLink Mouse by registering a different finger, but the angle is awkward.
Still, for a suggested retail price of US$129, the U-Match BioLink Mouse combines the excellent security of biometrics with a lot of convenience for most users. The next version will include more functionality and, we hope, better documentation.
U-Match BioLink Mouse
BioLink Technologies International Inc.
Price and availability: The U-Match BioLink Mouse is available for a suggested retail price of $129.
Remarks: The BioLink mouse is easy to use and extremely convenient because it integrates biometric functionality into equipment that all computer users are familiar with. This version doesn’t include many bells and whistles, but the price is right. We hope the next version includes more thorough documentation.
Copyright 2000 Federal Computer Week (online), International Data Group Inc. All rights reserved.
Prices listed are in US currency.