Sensometrix lands major deal with Fujitsu
Nicolas Rebetez, CEO and co-founder of Geneva start-up Sensometrix, shows the palm of his hand to a small box at the entrance to his company building. A few moments later, there’s a click and the door opens. His company’s SensoBox can identify users from the vein patterns in their hands, using a unique algorithm it has also developed, called SensoBrain. “When combined with all sorts of biometric capture devices, SensoBrain is able to speed up risk-free hand vein recognition performance, without infringing on your privacy,” says Rebetez. In concrete terms, SensoBrain can identify one among hundreds of thousands of users within a few seconds, instead of the mere thousand users that can be recognised using traditional vein capture devices.
Swiss luxury goods company Richemont, IBM and Novartis are already equipped with Sensometrix technology to control building access. “In the near future, biometrics will be used on a daily basis, in airports, firms, and to access computers,” foresees Rebetez. The identification procedure will soon be applied to payments in supermarkets, restaurants and other businesses. “We are already negotiating with large chain stores in Switzerland as well as in the rest of Europe to replace payment cards with biometric recognition systems.”The death of the credit card?
Sensometrix’s collaborators are looking to the spread of biometrics across the planet. “We hope that consumers will recognise the fact that credit cards have had their day, much in the same way that home landlines and CDs have,” says Rebetez. Is biometric payment infallible? “Are credit cards infallible?” he answers. For him there is no such thing as zero risk, but payment via vein patterns would rack up a number of advantages, including the absence of a material support and, consequently, the risk of theft.
How can small Sensometrix scale up to the world market? The answer: Fujitsu. Negotiations with the Japanese computer giant began in October 2006. Four years later, the contract was concluded. “SensoBrain combines comfort with security. Fujitsu’s clients can forget about cards for good,” says Rebetez. “The agreement allows us to speed up the deployment of SensoBrain around the planet thanks to a licensing model.”
“Meanwhile the SensoBox – a biometric sensor that Sensometrix perfected and which uses the company’s technology – has already seen sales in Switzerland”, says Rebetez. The cost of the licences and the boxes have not yet been made public, but it would be around “15 to 20% less expensive than iris recognition technology”, he says.
The global market for biometrics will probably represent around US$10 billion by 2015, and it is attracting more and more players into the market. “Currently, our technology has no known competitors. We are developing new algorithms, the next SensoBrain generation, to maintain our competitive advantage,” says Rebetez. In Brazil, the start-up recently began two pilot projects for physical access control and payment terminals.