While facial recognition at airports continues to grab headlines, other biometrics, such as finger and iris scan, are making what security experts say are deep inroads with real-life computer, network and access control applications.

Finger and iris biometrics easily integrate into electronic and physical access systems. Hotly hyped facial recognition-seemingly seeking investors as hard as end users-tends instead to fall into applications in which the enrollment database are photos of bad guys instead of good guys or more identification than access. There also are concerns about facial recognition's on-the-job effectiveness, according to Electronic Buyers News, among other publications.

No matter the type of technological approach, however, government still remains the prime force behind the development and implementation of biometrics.

For example, a recent boost to biometrics: In its anti-terror mode, the U.S. House just weeks ago voted to require closer scrutiny of people applying for visas. The legislation would require that, by October 2003, the government would begin issuing machine-readable, tamper-resistant visas with "biometrics information" that could be used to verify a person's identity.

Among other recent security biometrics advances:

Finger access to PDAs-The AuthenTec's FingerLoc AF-S2 sensor is now integrated into a line of biometric portable devices including the VeriTouch PCMCIA Type II card initially for the Compaq Computer's iPAQ H-3600 Personal Digital Assistant (PDA). VeriTouch's bioCARD is a miniature mobile wireless terminal blending voice communications, high-speed data with GPRS 2.5 G networks, smart cards and biometric fingerprint authentication.

Facial recognition to catch shoplifters-In a Boston Globe article, dueling facial recognition firms Viisage Technology Inc. and Visionics Corp. said that airport tests, "will help them capture sales beyond airports and sports arenas." The next step: use by retailers to catch shoplifters. It's not a final sale, however. Some retail establishments do have pictures of shoplifters, and many use video surveillance systems in addition to electronic article surveillance. However, it is more problematic as to what store security can do when there is a shoplifter "hit" when compared with airport terrorists or casino cheats.

Voice plus facial recognition opens doors-Partners NEXUS Group International Inc.'s AcSys Biometrics Corp. and Graphco Technologies have developed an access control system for The Manor at Yorktown, in Bucks County, Penn., which uses proprietary voice technology and facial recognition. Apartment doors open when a resident states any phrase through VoicePass. Then facial recognition software adds a further layer. Furthermore, the biometric technology is also used in a local store.

Biometric IDs for U.S. Government workers-Precise Biometrics has received orders from the Department of Defense as well as from another major Federal agency for 700 fingerprint readers and match-on-card applications for a project to replace existing ID badges for up to 4.3 million Department of Defense employees. Precise Biometrics, with partner ActivCard, will aim at a new and smarter generation of ID badges built on a combination of a smart card and the cardholders' fingerprint.

Laser cards holding biometrics-From Drexler Technology, a multi-biometric ID is built on a LaserCard optical memory card that can store all or any combination of biometric identifiers. The LaserCards are now high-security, machine-readable visas (called "Laser Visas") for crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and for verification of permanent residency in the U.S. (i.e., "Green Cards").

Driver's license biometrics-The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, according to media reports, is now working with the Justice Department and the General Services Administration to create a national system that brings together state driver databases through smart cards, bar codes and biometrics.

Bank network access-Identix, with its fingerprint authentication, is working with a major bank to secure access for its employees to its IT network.

Iris network access-Oki Electric Industry Co., Ltd. of Japan will bundle SAFLINK's SAF2000 workstation and enterprise network security software with Oki's IRISPASS compact iris authentication unit, which is connected to a PC via USB interface.

Securicor gains iris access-Securicor Information Systems and Iridian Technologies are working together to bring iris recognition to Securicor's public safety and airport security operations.

Notebooks with built-in biometrics-In the hot notebook PC sector, new for 2002, the Samsung GT9000 Series laptop comes with STMicroelectronics fingerprint hardware and software while MicronPC now has a model with built-in fingerprint-recognition capabilities. It joins others: Chem USA's ChemBook 8600 with optional internal finger reader; Acer's TravelMate with built-in biometrics; and Dell with external Identix finger scanner.