Death, Taxes, and Fingerprint Sensors

Today AuthenTec reported the shipment of its 25 millionth fingerprint sensor.

The company is celebrating the milestone by sponsoring an international contest for "the 25 best application ideas that take advantage of AuthenTecâ''s award-winning fingerprint sensors." If you win, you get a fingerprint-protected laptop. Second place through 25th gets a $25.00 gift card.

Someone's already thought of fingerprint-authenticated cell phones, PDAs, PCs, laptops, door locks, ATM machines, and national ID cards. Now itâ''s your turn.

Before you begin, let me remind everyone that a chopped-off finger won't fool the sensors.

Contest rules and so on:

Millions of people each day draw upon the Power of Touch to eliminate passwords, protect their phones and laptops from theft, shop online, or open their front door. The uses and applications in which fingerprint sensors can make life better are almost endless. The 25 winning ideas will be selected by a panel of technology enthusiasts, and winners will be awarded prizes which include the first place prize of an AuthenTec-enabled laptop PC and a $25 gift card for the 24 runners up. Big Ideas may be submitted until November 30, 2007 at the contest Web site, 25Mandcounting.com.

25 million is a lot of fingerprint sensors. If youâ''re wondering why you havenâ''t noticed this embarrassment of riches, you must not be living in Japan. Itâ''s no secret that Japan is usually the early adopter of new technologies, and this is no exception.

There, the market adoption has followed what the company refers to as a "hockey stick" growth curve. Over nine steady years the company sold 10 million sensors, and over the next 16 months, that number shot up to 25 million. AuthenTec sensors are now in about 17 million laptops and 7 million cell phones. Confirming the prediction made back in September, the company now says nearly one in five laptops shipped during 2007 will include a fingerprint sensor.

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