Dwight Peterson is a co-founder of Puyallup's Advanced Biometrics Inc., maker of LiveGrip, a technology that scans the palm underneath its skin. Because the scans are internal, Peterson says they're much more secure and don't carry the Big Brother-like privacy threats of other technologies.
The idea began as a gun-safety mechanism—a goal Peterson's company intends to pursue as a nonprofit. But in the meantime, Advanced Biometrics is finding uses for secure access and ChronoLog, a punch-in system that uses the employee's hand—which the company says will save employers millions in lost hours.
Seattle Weekly: If you were James Bond and you needed to sneak past a fingerprint scanner, a face scanner, and an iris scanner, what would you do?
Dwight Peterson: With the fingerprints I'd lift the fingerprint of one of the individuals who had access. You can capture it with tape, and you can silkscreen a fingerprint very quickly. For a facial scan, all I need is a picture of that individual. You take the picture, make it larger, and cut the nose out, and you get to be them. The iris scan is actually just a very good picture of the iris of your eye. So taking a good digital image, printing it out on a transparency, and putting it on a monocle, you'd effectively get past that. These are good, first-generation products, [but] they're external.
SW: People have accepted the idea that every fingerprint is unique. Can you guarantee that everyone's subcutaneous palms are unique?
DP: If you've watched any of the police shows, you'll hear them say they have "a partial set of prints." The reason they say that is they need eight fingers from an individual to identify them. They're still talking about probability. When they go into a court of law, they'll say, "We're 97 percent sure it's this individual." Currently most fingerprint systems only use one finger.
SW: The buddy punch has a long and celebrated history—
DP: Hey, I worked in a fast-food restaurant once; I know exactly what you're talking about. Everybody in the world has done it.
SW: Are you worried about being the guy who killed the buddy punch?
DP: No, I once worked in a situation where you called in and there was no set time for when you went out—and, trust me, the company abused it. I put in a lot more time than I ever got paid for. ChronoLog is a good event for the employee: It will ensure they get paid for their work.
SW: The infrared palm scan doesn't glow. Why not?
DP: We thought about that—maybe we ought to put lights in and make it pretty. But we decided to make it simple for people. We thought about this as [that] you go up to the door, put your hand on the knob, and you're in the house. One of the exciting things we thought about is putting this in the car: If someone tries to steal it, hey, they can't get the transmission unlocked. We have a second patent ready to issue: Let's suppose you do get into your Honda and you do put your hand on the shifter, but, you know, you've had a couple glasses of chardonnay and you're just over the limit. It says, yes, it's really you but you're over that alcohol limit, and it won't unlock the transmission. . . . We can detect alcohol in the human system very effectively.