Peter O’Neill, president of FindBiometrics, recently interviewed Gerry Bornhofen, president of iTouch Biometrics. The conversation begins with a briefing on the company and its FBI approved Accurate-ID multimodal biometrics software. Discussion then turns to how iTouch has made the user experience so intuitive on its flagship technology, the markets that it is targeting, and the growing need to finally be done with passwords.
Peter O’Neill, President, FindBiometrics (FB): Can you please provide our readers with a brief background of your company?
Gerry Bornhofen, President, iTouch Biometrics: iTouch Biometrics is a software development company specializing in developing our Accurate-ID software for identity management. We formed the company in 2009 and serve markets that are state, federal, a lot of law enforcement as well as education.
FB: Can tell us about the range of your product lineup?
iTouch: Our Accurate-ID software can basically plug and play with any type of FBI/State approved hardware. You install our software which is plug and play if you want to do ten print fingerprints or if you want to do palm prints, capture iris records, facial images or capture voice prints all of which would allow for multimodal biometric identification. These would be add-on modalities to the fingerprinting application which could be plugged into our Accurate-ID software. The user could capture a complete and entire biometric multimodal identity of an individual and then save that record into a searchable database.
FB: You describe your system as failsafe—can you elaborate on that a little bit for us?
iTouch: Yes, our system is just really simple to use. It is very intuitive; typical training on how to use our system takes as little as 10-15 minutes. It is failsafe in the sense that it is very stable, it doesn’t crash. It is very operator user friendly and it works. The fingerprint sequence checking and quality control processes eliminate capture mistakes and ensure that high quality images are always obtained.
FB: End user experience is an area where our industry has been focusing on improving for quite some time. Your product seems to have figured this out. What have you done to allow for this really unique, easy end user experience?
iTouch: We have spent a lot of time listening to our customers and watching the way they are using our product. We find out what things we can make easier for the operator, what things can be enhanced, and basically we just observe and get a tremendous amount of feedback from the customers. The customers who started with us during our early days like this process, and that is part of the reason those customers are still with us today.
FB: When I saw your product in use, it impressed me that you almost weren’t allowed to make an error. How does that work?
iTouch: With our software we have built in a number of elevation features so if an operator is doing something incorrectly—for instance entering a field that has a 30 character limit and they mistakenly type in 32 characters, or maybe the FBI or State Police will only allow for numbers and letters and no special characters, or when the operator is processing the record and uses a special or unauthorized character such as a hyphen or an asterisk—it will alert the operator right away that this is not admissible to the agency they are going to be submitting the fingerprints to. These failsafe features significantly reduce errors which can cause fingerprint records to be rejected by state and federal agencies.
FB: I guess the learning curve is always a challenge, but with yours it seems that there are two or three steps –very easy for anybody to grab hold of. Is that correct?
iTouch: That is correct. That is really one of the biggest selling points to our customers when we present our solutions. We say, “Play with our software and put it next to the one you are used to using and see how easy ours is to use by comparison.”
When we install a system and start to train the individuals, you would think that with the robustness and the tremendous capabilities of the Accurate-ID software, it would be really difficult for an operator or an individual to be able to learn the functionality and how to obtain a quality record, but no, that is not the case at all. Agencies will slot two to three hours of training time and within 10-15 minutes of them seeing the software, and how easy it flows from step one to step two to step three, a lot of them say, “Hey, I get it. You don’t need to stick around. I really appreciate your help and I’ll call you if there are any questions.”
FB: That must make you happy.
iTouch: It really does because it limits the number of support calls that we receive in the office.
FB: Has this been a good year for your company?
iTouch: It has actually been a tremendous few years for the company. We started out, as I said earlier, in 2009 as a small software development company, and dabbled around several different industries until we settled on the biometric space. We initially started selling systems to the education market, school districts. We started in the state of Illinois and we were very successful. We picked up most of the new systems going into Illinois.
We then expanded into the law enforcement market. Our first big hit was when we signed a contract with the Illinois State Police to replace and install new booking systems statewide. We won that contract in 2014 and we completed delivery of the contract in less than 90 days—in the beginning of 2015. Just recently, we were fortunate enough to roll into a new contract with the Indiana State Police where they have over a 108 booking systems statewide in jails, sheriff’s offices and a number of department sites which we are going to be installing [in March, 2016]. Agencies are now ready to use iTouch’s live-scan solutions which are reliable, easy to learn and use and are very affordable.
FB: Congratulations on that. And what can we expect to see next from iTouch in the coming year?
iTouch: Well we are going to continue to develop the markets we are really good at servicing including the education and the law enforcement markets, but I also see us taking our technology into other markets as well. I think there is a big need for Accurate-ID in retail and in banking, finance, anywhere where there are issues regarding security and identity management and where you need multiple point authentication. People are getting tired of passwords and the need to change your password every thirty days. Biometrics can basically solve that problem.
FB: I couldn’t agree more. Whenever I’m giving a talk at a conference, I always ask, will the password be dead in five, four, three, two years and it always used to be five or four and now it is how many months. The time has come for sure.
iTouch: Well people are tired of passwords which are becoming very insecure now because people are required to change their password every thirty days, as a company of department mandate, and it is hard to remember all of those changes. So what do they do? They write their password down and they put it on a sticky note and they put it on their desktop computer or put it on their desk or in a drawer and it is just very easy for somebody to get access to. There is technology out there to resolve that problem.
FB: Thank you for taking the time speak with us today and I look forward to hearing more about your company in the coming year.
iTouch: Thank you Peter, I really appreciate the time.