Interview With Teresa Wu, Managing Global Biometric System Portfolio Marketing Director for 3M Cogent, Inc.

3MCogentNLThis week in Las Vegas, Nevada biometric solution providers will be converging on the ISC West conference and exhibition. Among the many companies attending with be 3M Cogent.

Peter O’Neill (fB) had a chance to speak with 3M Cogent’s Teresa Wu, the company’s global biometric system and mobile handheld portfolio marketing director (3M). In addition to getting some info about what 3M will be presenting at ISC West (booth #17121) – its line of MiY indoor/outdoor and mobile biometric access control readers and data collection devices – they got to discussing the challenge of education and the role of mobility in the biometrics arena.

fB: This has been quite a year in our industry, can you please review some of the highlights for 3M Cogent?

3M: We have been going through a series of program developments. One that I have been working on is 3M Cogent Managed Mobile ID Service (MMIS). It allows medium and small police agencies in specific states  to use mobile devices without the heavy infrastructure investment costs. For instance, we worked with various stakeholders to set up the backend server infrastructure  to allow more agencies to search the Texas DPS state AFIS and the FBI RISC database. It was quite a lengthy process and a significant accomplishment.

fB: When did that come to market Teresa?

3M: We started implementing MMIS in Texas last year.

fB: Mobility has become a key driver in this marketplace, can you please review your mobile solutions for our readers?

3M: There are several aspects of mobility in my view. There is the security of the data for mobile users, and then there is convenience and productivity. We started seven years ago when we launched BlueCheck(TM) -enabled portable scanners for police forces.

fB: I remember when that product was announced, we did an interview with your company about that.

3M: Correct. We invested early in this trend. For instance, we have licensed our patented image reconstruction algorithm for linear swipe fingerprint sensor. This type of sensor is mainly used on mobile smart devices.  We continue to innovate by offering more mobile devices and implementing new service models.

fB: You have been a leader in the law enforcement/mobile area for quite some time, will you also  be moving in to the commercial space with some of your products?

3M: Yes. You may have heard that we partnered with Entrust to integrate our fingerprint technology on the Entrust IdentityGuard Authentication Software platform. We presented our joint solution at the RSA conference last month in San Francisco.

fB: You focus on many different vertical markets; could you please summarize these for us?

3M: We focus on four major market segments: law enforcement, civil ID, border management and access control.

fB: Which ones would you say are seeing the greatest growth or movement in?

3M: I think all have growth potential. In each segment we have seen compelling market drivers that translate into the mainstream adoption of biometrics. I don’t want to pick just one, because look at e-Gate, border control — they are all linked together.

Civil ID is key because of all the travel and identity documents adopting biometrics. Since 2001 we’ve provided the backend biometric identification system supporting the Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM) US VISIT program. The DHS OBIM program was one of a kind, and is still one of the largest biometric identification systems in the world.

On the access control side, the adoption of biometrics is constant. Between ASIS or ISC West the number of vendors presenting biometrics solutions over the past ten years has quadrupled.  

I don’t think these markets are evolving in silos; one impacts the other.

fB: I couldn’t agree more. I remember going to ISC ten to 12 years ago and there couldn’t have been more than ten to twelve biometric companies there and the last time I was there must have been 40-50 or so companies that had some biometrics in their exhibit areas.

3M: Correct. I don’t think biometrics is a silver bullet for perfect security, but it is a very key component when implemented properly with the right framework and the right setting to strengthen the entire identity management solution.

fB: What do you see is the greatest challenge then facing our industry in 2014?

3M: I think it is still education! We need education on the technology itself as well as the uses; what can be done and not used, and the benefit, why we are using it and for what purpose.

fB: It is interesting in our latest Year in Review that came out clearly, that education was one of the critical success factors moving forward. That as an industry we really need to step up and be the voice of the benefits and of biometrics especially when dealing with issues of privacy etc., stressing that it is a privacy enhancer not the reverse. I think you are absolutely correct with those comments.

3M: Using biometrics on mobile phones is not new. The fact that Apple launched TouchID is a highlight that confirms the trend. I remember the first prototype of a fingerprint sensor on a mobile phone when I started in the industry twelve years ago. It is a key component that we can leverage to protect data and to protect ourselves and to protect access.

fB: The Security Industry Association also last year awarded you, for the 3M Cogent MiY-Touch biometric  Access Control Reader, the Judges Choice Award, can you please elaborate on this win for us?

3M: That was quite a honor because the panel of industry judges appreciated the technical advances and the built-in workflow flexibility we implemented into the latest addition to our MiY line.

fB: What can we expect to see from you at the ISC West show?

3M: 3M Cogent will be presenting our flexible, scalable and secure line of MiY indoor/outdoor and mobile biometric access control readers and data collection devices. We have a complete range of products suitable for enterprise, air and seaports, and government facilities as well as small and medium size buildings. Our latest addition is the HID SE add-on module for the MiY-Touch reader, adding support for MiFare, Desfire and iClass contact cards.

fB: Thank you very much for speaking with us today.

3M: It has been my pleasure Peter.