High-tech pen allows handwriting identification

The Bio-Pen should be able to identify someone by their signature, but a hands-on demonstration showed up some glitches

Signing on the dotted line could soon become a way to digitally authenticate oneself, according to one company that has started selling a USB-connected pen that they claim can identify a user from the pressure and velocity of their handwriting,.

Secure Signature Systems (SSS) demonstrated its Bio-Pen on Thursday at the InfoSecurity Europe conference in London.

"The way you write is individual to you," said an assistant at SSS's stand at InfoSecurity Europe. "With this you can log into computers or use it for access control over restricted areas."

The software application that comes with the pen has to record the writer's signature three or four times before it can identify them from their writing style. SSS, which is targeting European markets with the product, said the data recorded by the pen could help companies to track user behaviour on their systems.

When demonstrated to ZDNet UK, the pen failed to work for the first two attempts of registering and authenticating, but the company insisted that this was uncommon.

"Occasionally there are a couple of glitches," the assistant said. But generally it's an excellent way of identifying yourself."

A single Bio-pen, complete with USB lead and software, will cost £199, but prices escalate for companies who want to deploy several of them around their organisation.

A bundle of five bio-pens, accompanied by software that will integrate the pens into an organisation's IT systems, will cost £5,699. Fifty pens plus software will cost £56,999, so any IT manager considering investing in the bio-pen should test the device themselves for glitches.

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