PC users could soon be able to unlock their devices by waving their hand in front of it.
Biometric technology developed by Hitachi Europe, which the company said will be launched next year, could allow PC users to unlock their computer by using its webcam to scan the veins in their fingers.
Passwords have long been criticised as too easily forgotten, shared or guessed – and irritating and slow to input. For many businesses, password reset requests can take up a significant chunk of time for IT help desks. Biometrics are an increasingly popular answer to this problem, at least for some. Many modern smartphones offer a fingerprint reader and facial recognition options instead of passwords, and some PCs – such as those using Windows Hello – will already allow you to log-in with your face.
Like other biometrics, vein patters are much harder to share or lose than a password. Hitachi Europe said that finger vein patterns are unique and as they are located inside the body, are very difficult to be copied, and they don't change with age. The scanned finger must also be attached to a live human body in order for the veins of the finger to be authenticated.
To verify their identity, a laptop user raises their hand in front of the computer's in-built camera, and the image is then analysed and access is granted if multiple finger patterns are matched.
Hitachi's finger vein biometrics are already used in banks for authorising transactions, password replacement, single sign-on and ATM machines – in Japan, North America and Europe. It said the PC-unlocking software would be available in 2020 but would not say which companies are likely to use it.