Hard Drives Go Biometric

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SAN FRANCISCO -- A biometric hard drive capable of delivering the storage power of a PC in a pocket-sized data device is being launched by Memory Experts International here at the RSA Conference this week.

The biometric secured hard drive will come in a 20GB version priced at $450, and a 60MB model priced at $650. It is ruggedized to withstand a ten-yard drop, he says. Memory Experts targets the device at road warriors looking to keep their information secure.

The device is scheduled to become available next week at a number of retailers, including Best Buy and Circuit City Stores. It will be available internationally in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia shortly after, said Kieran.

Product Details

After plugging the hard drive into a USB port for the first time, a user can enroll up to ten fingerprints. In addition to fingerprint authentication, users can access the hard drive by entering a nine-digit pin on a pad accompanying the device.

A light-emitting diode (LED) on the device turns green once the hard drive is connected a desktop or a notebook USB port, indicating it is ready to use. After a fingerprint is authenticated, the LED turns blue, signaling that the fingerprint has been verified and the hard drive is ready to use. The hard drive shuts down after it is disconnected from the USB port.

An administrator can erase or add fingerprints to the device, says Kieran. He recommends that each user register at least two fingerprints.

"If you scratch your finger while working in a garden, there will be no way (for a user) to get in," he says.

The hard drive is USB 2.0 backward-compatible, and works only on computers running Windows 2000 Service Pack 4, Windows XP Service Pack 1, and Windows 98 Second Edition. The company is working on the hard drive's compatibility with Macintosh and Linux.

An optional external power supply is offered for the hard drive, as it uses 500 milliamps on a PC or notebook's USB drive. Some low-end notebooks provide only 250 milliamps of power to the USB port, in which case the external power supply would be needed, Kieran says.

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