Coppernic is a France-based company that provides rugged, innovative, versatile and attractive mobile identity solutions for a variety of industries including access control, law enforcement, meter reading, secure documents and more. FindBiometrics president Peter O’Neill recently spoke with Jacky Lecuivre, president of Coppernic, about the history of his company, the recently launched C-One e-ID solution, and also the strong demand for biometric technology in the face of Europe’s mounting refugee crisis.
Peter O’Neill, President, FindBiometrics: Can you please provide our readers with a brief background of your company?
Jacky Lecuivre, President, Coppernic: Coppernic was founded at the end of 2008 by a team of people who were all working together at Psion, a British company listed in London that acquired Teklogix in 2000, a Canadian company based and listed in Toronto. We were a part of that, and after being the Managing Director for France and Western Europe and then VP EMEA, I became the CEO of Psion PLC in 2006.
In 2003, when I was the VP of EMEA I had put together a group of engineers who were technical experts in wireless communication systems and in the most recent data capture technologies—i.e. biometrics, imaging, laser scanners, all kinds of RFID, smart cards, OCR, et cetera. The purpose of this group was to do smart integrations of some of these technologies within rugged hand-held terminals and tablets, in order to design, develop, manufacture and deliver perfectly “fit for purpose” products to the mobile workers who are operating on the field in the different market sectors we target: Public transportation, access control, meter reading, authentication of secured ID documents, identification of people, law enforcement.
At the end of 2008, the board decided that this group would be dismantled as it was too costly … This decision was made to deliver a positive message to the shareholders that were anxious because of the bank crisis.
With the key players of this fantastic team, we decided to create a brand new company and we called it Coppernic. Our philosophy is to develop complete bespoke solutions that fit the many various requirements of the meter readers, ticket inspectors security agents, border or criminal policemen, etc.
To do that, we select the best of breed professional mobile devices, then, we mechanically and electrically integrate the right technological components into it and we complete this integration by developing the necessary SDK’s.
FB: You just recently launched the C-One e-ID biometric product, can you please tell us about this?
Coppernic: For me, this product is the perfect achievement of our strategy and philosophy. It means that in this one piece product, we have been able to smartly integrate all of the technological components that are needed to read secure ID documents and identify people. For the moment, border or any kind of policemen, need to authenticate secure documents such as biometric passports, visas and ID cards. They also need to be able to identify wanted persons and potential terrorists. So, in one single product we have at the same time a biometric module fully approved by the FBI, readers for RFID and smartcards, a swipe OCR to read MRZ on the documents, a 2D imager and a camera with autofocus and flash. In summary, we have everything and anything that is required to address the most critical mobile border control and law enforcement missions.
FB: You mentioned a couple of very important vertical markets, border control, airports, law enforcement, are there other vertical markets that your biometric products could be applied to?
Coppernic:I think that most of the applications will be around law enforcement and border control. The funny thing and it was not really on purpose, but as we are talking, I am in the main building of the French Ministry of the Interior in Paris, in front of a police officer of the border police and we have just finished an important meeting dedicated to the three pilots we have started with our C-One e-ID.
The first one is with the Thalys high speed train that goes from Paris to Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany many times a day. The border policemen who operate on board the Thalys will evaluate the capabilities of our product during four to five weeks. The same kind of testing will be done at Orly airport which is the main hub between France and North Africa. And we are also running a pilot on the highway that goes from Belgium to France. Together with the border police, we have decided to run three different pilots to make sure that the product suits the various expectations and requirements of the border police office. Even if we are still at the beginning of the trials, we have already got some initial feedback and so far, it seems that the users are very happy with it.
FB: Very interesting given all the immigration issues in the news around Europe right now. Your product seems to be ideally suited to deal with some of those issues. Has this been a good year for your company?
Coppernic: I think 2016 will be a very good year because the C-One e-ID was designed and developed mostly in the second half of 2014 and in 2015. In November 2015, we have received CE and FCC approvals from the regulatory offices, which means that the C-One e-ID can be sold and deployed across Europe and North America without limitation and it seems that the time to market is just perfect.
Going back to what you said Peter, law enforcement and border control are one aspect but there is also a very interesting application for this product in public migration. Today we have hundreds of thousands of people coming from many countries: Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lybia and so on. They are coming to Europe and it is very difficult to count them and to trace them. Our C-One e-ID is capable to do the full enrollment of people by capturing their fingerprints, their photo, their biographic coordinates, the location where they first entered the Schengen area. This data could feed some dedicated databases and the C-One e-ID can generate an RFID card which will have exactly the same functionalities as a biometric passport as everything will be stored inside the chip.
The C-One e-ID is the first product we have developed with our own money. We have a very long track record because our group developed two very successful products for Morpho while we were at Psion. Now that great team is part of Coppernic. So in the case of C-One e-ID we decided that instead of developing something for another company, we would develop and market it ourselves!
FB: Well, immigration officials are going to love your product I’m sure. Congratulations on the timing of all of this. I look forward to seeing you in Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress.
Coppernic: Thanks, Peter.