With desktop camera, your face can be your password

Toronto company introduces 3D DeskCam, which uses infrared along with a lens to scan faces in three dimensions and authenticate users.Video: A security system and a Webcam
Written by Joris Evers, Contributor
A Canadian company on Wednesday announced a new camera that functions as both a Webcam and a security system that scans a face in three dimensions.

Toronto-based Bioscrypt claims an industry first with its 3D DeskCam. The 3-inch tall, half-inch wide camera uses infrared along with a lens to scan a face in three dimensions and authenticate users accessing computers, the company said.

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Video: Your face is the key to security
Canadian company Bioscrypt claims an industry first with a desktop 3D facial-recognition camera. CNET News.com's Joris Evers takes a look.

The camera uses about 40,000 identification points, looking primarily at a person's forehead, eye sockets and nose bridge, said Ryan Zlockie, director of product management at Bioscrypt. The facial-recognition system has passed tests with identical twins and professional face molds, Zlockie said. A person registered with facial hair who subsequently shaves doesn't have to be reregistered, but somebody who undergoes plastic surgery does, he said.

The 3D DeskCam can remove the need for passwords, tokens or smart cards to log on to a computer or online services, according to Bioscrypt.

For consumers, the 3D feature can also help create avatars that look like an individual for use in gaming and instant-message applications, Zlockie said.

Bioscrypt pitches facial scanning as a user-friendly alternative to other biometric security systems that scan a finger or an iris.

"3D face recognition is much quicker and you don't have to be as close as with iris scanning," Zlockie said. Also, people don't have to touch anything or worry about greasy fingers, he said.

The camera, priced at $350, is slated to be available in the second half of this year. Initially, Bioscrypt is targeting business users, but the device could be available to consumers by the end of the year or early next year, Zlockie said. When produced in higher volume, the price should come down to around $200, he said.

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