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Palm scanners get thumbs up in schools, hospitals
Palm-scanning technology uses unique vein patterns as a handy ID system.
11:32PM EST November 25. 2012 - At schools in Pinellas County, Fla., students aren't paying for lunch with cash or a card, but with a wave of their hand over a palm scanner.
"It's so quick that a child could be standing in line, call mom and say, 'I forgot my lunch money today.' She's by her computer, runs her card, and by the time the child is at the front of the line, it's already recorded," says Art Dunham, director of food services for Pinellas County Schools.
Students take about four seconds to swipe and pay for lunch, Dunham says, and they're doing it with 99% accuracy.
"We just love it. No one wants to go back," Dunham says.
Palm-scanning technology is popping up nationwide as a bona fide biometric tracker of identities, and it appears poised to make the jump from schools and hospitals to other sectors of the economy including ATM usage and retail. It also has applications as a secure identifier for cloud computing.
Here's how it works: Using the same near-infrared technology that comes in a TV remote control or Nintendo Wii video game, the device takes a super high-resolution infrared photograph of the vein pattern just below a person's skin. That image, between 1.5 and 2.5 square inches, is recorded and digitized.
The PalmSecure device is made by document-scanning manufacturer Fujitsu. So far, no other company has a palm scanner on the market — though at least one other company is working on the technology.
Like many technological breakthroughs, the development began accidentally. A decade ago, a Fujitsu engineer in Tokyo mistakenly ran his hand over a page scanner and it yielded an output that piqued his curiosity. Testing eventually showed that the veins in the palm of your hand are as unique as a fingerprint and can be photographed under infrared light.
Fujitsu has seen double-digit quarterly sales growth in each of the last two years, says Bud Yanak, director of product management and partner development for Fujitsu Frontech North America.
Palm scanners are installed in more than 50 school systems and more than 160 hospital systems in 15 states and the District of Columbia, Yanak says.
Pinellas County Schools were the first in the nation to bring palm scanning to their lunch lines about 18 months ago. They are being used by 50,000 students at 17 high schools and 20 middle schools. Soon, the program will expand to 60,000 more students at 80 elementary schools, Dunham says. The 2% of students who opt out can still use cash.
He says hygiene isn't a concern because students don't need to touch the device, but only hold their hand directly above it, to register a scan.
At hospitals, the scans are making patient registration more efficient, and prevent sharing of information by patients that could lead to insurance fraud, says Carl Bertrams, senior vice president of sales and marketing for palm scan software maker HT Systems in Tampa.
Cranberry Station cafeteria manager Peggy Vincent runs the computer that links the scan to a student's account.(Photo: Jack Gruber, USA TODAY)
A palm scan's precision record-keeping also avoids possible confusion if patients have the same name. For instance, a hospital system in the Houston area with a database of 3.5 million patients has 2,488 women in it named Maria Garcia – and 231 of them have the same date of birth, Bertrams says.
HT Systems president David Wiener won't reveal revenue but says that since 2007, they've got more than 160 hospitals for clients and have scanned more than 5 million patients.
At Wisconsin's UW Health system, palm scans have been used for about two years, says Dawn Gramse, a senior systems analyst. Soon, they'll start using self-service palm-swiping kiosks for patients to check themselves in.
"You'd hear about other biometric scanners that are out there, and you'd see the Mission Impossible movies with the eye scanners, and you'd never think you can integrate that kind of technology into a hospital," she says, "but you can."
Not everyone loves the idea of scans.
Students in Carroll County, Md., schools are using lunch line palm scanners, but 7-year-old Ian Webb isn't one of them. His father, Michael Webb, decided to have Ian, a second-grader, opt out of the program at Piney Ridge Elementary in Eldersburg.
"My son is not using the technology," he says. "I'll be honest, I think it's horrible. It's an intrusion into our children's rights."
Webb says he's concerned that use of the scanners by elementary school students normalizes the use of biometrics and anesthetizes young children to recognizing privacy violations later in life.
"I understand taking an iris scan of a pilot at an airport, so you know it's the right pilot flying the plane" he says. "This is that level of equipment they're installing in a line that serves steamed corn. I don't think it rises to the level of steamed corn."
Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, says the key to this particular kind of biometrics — that is, the kind a user consents to, unlike some facial recognition software — is ensuring that all data be treated sensitively.
"If it's a technology that works really well, it won't be long before you're offering your palm in a lot of different locations, and you will be concerned about who's got access to that information and what they want to do with it," Calabrese says.
The technology is expanding. Fujitsu in September launched a new line of palm-scanning ATMs in Japan, according to a company news release. Customers of Ogaki Kyoritsu Bank now can access cash machines without a bank card or personal identification number.
And while Fujitsu says it's the only company with such a product on the market right now, computer company Intel Corp. is working with palm-scanning technology.
Palm scanning can be used as a substitute for clunky, hard-to-remember passwords, says Sridhar Iyengar, director of security research at Intel Labs.
"There is a way around it, and biometrics is one option," Iyengar. "Replacing what you know — passwords — with what you are ... it's an ease of use issue. It's harder to spoof, and you're not likely to forget your fingerprints anytime soon."
Shane also reports for The (Salisbury, Md.) Daily Times
Rise in “populist activism” a threat to “external control”
Paul Joseph Watson
November 26, 2012
During a recent speech in Poland, former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski warned fellow elitists that a worldwide “resistance” movement to “external control” driven by “populist activism” is threatening to derail the move towards a new world order.
Calling the notion that the 21st century is the American century a “shared delusion,” Brzezinski stated that American domination was no longer possible because of an accelerating social change driven by “instant mass communications such as radio, television and the Internet,” which have been cumulatively stimulating “a universal awakening of mass political consciousness.”
The former US National Security Advisor added that this “rise in worldwide populist activism is proving inimical to external domination of the kind that prevailed in the age of colonialism and imperialism.”
Brzezinski concluded that “persistent and highly motivated populist resistance of politically awakened and historically resentful peoples to external control has proven to be increasingly difficult to suppress.”
Although Brzezinski delivered his comments in a neutral tone, the context of the environment in which he said them allied to his previous statements would indicate that this is not a celebration of “populist resistance” but a lament at the impact it is having on the kind of “external control” Brzezinski has repeatedly advocated.
The remarks were made at an event for the European Forum For New Ideas (EFNI), an organization that advocates the transformation of the European Union into an anti-democratic federal superstate, the very type of bureaucratic “external control” Brzezinski stressed was in jeopardy in his lecture.
In this context, it must be understood that Brzezinski’s point about “populist resistance” being a major hindrance to the imposition of a new world order is more of a warning than an acclamation.
Also consider what Brzezinski wrote in his book Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technotronic Era, in which he advocated the control of populations by an elite political class via technotronic manipulation.
“The technotronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities,” wrote Brzezinski.
“In the technotronic society the trend would seem to be towards the aggregation of the individual support of millions of uncoordinated citizens, easily within the reach of magnetic and attractive personalities exploiting the latest communications techniques to manipulate emotions and control reason,” he wrote in the same book.
Brzezinski’s sudden concern about the impact of a politically awakened global population isn’t born out of any notion that he identifies with their cause. Brzezinski is the ultimate elitist insider, the founder of the powerful Trilateral Commission, a Council on Foreign Relations luminary and a regular Bilderberg attendee. He was once described by President Barack Obama as “one of our most outstanding thinkers”.
This is by no means the first time Brzezinski has lamented the burgeoning populist opposition to external domination by a tiny elite.
During a 2010 Council on Foreign Relations speech in Montreal, Brzezinski warned fellow globalists that a “global political awakening,” in combination with infighting amongst the elite, was threatening to derail the move towards a one world government.