Toshiba has moved a touch closer to the future as depicted by sci-fi films with the release of a fingerprint reader for notebooks. The imaginatively titled Fingerprint Reader is a PC card and will fit into any Type II slot.
A fingerprint reader is nothing new but Toshiba claims this one is the best so far for security as it works at the BIOS level, rather than on top. It works like this: buy one (available now) for £155, stick it in your PC slot.
The reader (pictured below) will be held within the notebook apparently, so no risk of snapping it off or gashing your leg, and will pop out when needed. Notebook asks for ID and you put your preferred digit on the reader. It scans it and away you go.
What if you cut off/burn your finger and need to email the hospital/your boss? The reader can accept up to four fingerprints, so you could use one of your functioning fingers or get your wife to open it up.
What if the company that owns the notebook wants access? You can also have a BIOS password for network administrators. Does this defeat the whole point? No, because sys admin don't need simple words like the rest of us do - they can function on 20-digit number and letter passwords.
Toshiba's product manager for the reader gave us the following sales pitch: "It is faster, more secure and more convenient. Your fingerprint is also unique. Larger companies in particular have asked for this sort of device - they want a biometric solution."
A good aspect of this that Toshiba ought to push harder is that the reader can also be used to allow (or prevent) access to applications within the OS. In fact, if Toshiba are to be believed, the software that comes with the reader - BioLogon - is very flexible and a fingerprint can be used for as many or as few password-restricted areas as you like.
Another advantage/disadvantage depending on how scatty you are is that an individual PC card will only work with a particular notebook (obvious we know, but worth mentioning). So there you have it. ®