The future at your fingertips

Technical innovations that can captivate lend us access to a world of the future.

If product launches had already depended on the outcome of market analyses 30 years ago, the mobile phone might never have made it. What was it good for? Who needed to be contactable at all times? There was a phone in the office and the one at home was shared by all the family. To own a mobile in the 1970s you had to be not only rich but also a shipping owner, an agent or Hugh Hefner at the very least. Car telephones of the sort so often seen in films were the preserve of out-and-out bigwigs. And it’s possibly only because we all hanker a little after being spies or jetsetters that the mobile could take the world by storm and become an everyday commodity as it did. Every boy thinks they’re going to be the next James Bond, don’t they. Against all the odds, however, most do not end up in the secret service, enjoying fast girls and cars and saving the world, but they do at least have all the latest inventions from “Q” when they grow up: they buy stereos whose glass doors slide open at the wave of a hand, for instance – not that that has any impact on the sound, mind.

Everyone wants to be a bit of a jetsetter

Pointing the remote control at our soft top so it disappears into the boot gets us really excited. We never leave the house without our MP3 players and certainly never without our multifunction mobiles – the Swiss army knife of the digital age.

For the couple of pictures we put up each year we have a cable detector, an illuminated drill and a levelling instrument that projects absolutely horizontal laser lines onto the wall. We love gadgets that give us a bit of power over the everyday world, place the upshot of human inventiveness into our hands, and prove we can get to grips with the latest feats of science – “il faut être absolument moderne”, as Arthur Rimbaud put it.

In the age of immaterialisation, however, more and more things threaten to dissolve into nothing. Any products that do manage to resist the descent into virtuality are called upon to deliver an ever-growing number of functions. But if a mobile telephone has to double up as a digital camera, an MP3 player, a Dictaphone or a minicomputer, its form can no longer “follow” any specific function.

The various processes disappear of necessity in a “black box” that replaces intelligible mechanisms with mere memory chips. It is thus increasingly necessary to indicate functions by means of symbols or emotions, to establish the human dimension through familiarity of operation.

A celebrity for whom all doors open

Opening a door with Fingerscan is not just technology worship either: given that keys are seemingly always in some deepest recess of jacket or bag, if not actually in the residence the door to which one is endeavouring to open, keyless access really does make matters easier.

Acting as the interface between people and product, Fingerscan transforms locks from mechanical dinosaurs into a secure digital system.

And turns us from latchkey kids into members of an “inner circle”: gaining access by lifting a finger instead of having to prove your legitimacy with a pass or key makes you feel like a celebrity for whom all doors open. Like the Queen, who leaves the unlocking to others. And, to conclude, a bit like James Bond, who won’t let anything stop him opening up the door to the future.

FSB fits out a variety of pull designs with Fingerscan technology with which to open doors without a key. A thermal line sensor measures temperature differences in the user’s finger grooves (minutiae) at defined points and compares these with the reference pattern archived for that person. Thermal scanning and the conversion of information into binary code are considered far more secure than optical or capacitive scanning, since the binary code cannot be reproduced as a fingerprint. The technology underpinning FSB’s F system is used by the State for high-security applications as well as by well-known financial institutions. Suitably networked, F can accommodate up to 2,000 users.

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