Futronic is a Hong Kong based company specialized in fingerprint recognition for logical and physical access control. The Futronic FS88 fingerprint reader is a USB connected CMOS reader which can be used for access control to your computer or can be integrated in applications using Futronic’s SDK.
The FS88 fingerprint reader has a touch, capacitive (CMOS) sensor. Futronic’s FS88 can be used for securing a home computer, provided this computer runs MS Windows. However the FS88 is more targeted at software developers and integrators, as well as to corporate and government applications. The fact that this fingerprint reader is FIPS 201 approved illustrates that with this device Futronic targets customers with higher demands in terms of security.
|Device Size||66 x 66 x 29 mm|
|Device Weight||150 g|
|Protective coating (sensor)||crown glass with a thickness of 14mm, resist scratches|
|Sensor type||CMOS (capacitive)|
|Acquisition speed||Not specified by the manufacturer|
|Array size (touch) / width (swipe)||480 x 320 pixel (500DPI)|
|Supported OS||Windows 7 / XP / Vista / Windows CE / Linux (*) / Mac OS (*)|
|Certifications||FIPS 201 / PIV-071006 / CE / FCC / USB2.0 / Microsoft WHQL|
(*) only SDK, no end-user software available from Futronic
Software and functionality
Windows – Futronic Logon Personnal Edition
For this review we tested the Futronic FS88 fingerprint reader on MS Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. According to Futronic their fingerprint reader should also work fine under MS Windows XP and Vista, as well as on MS Windows CE, Mac OS 10.5 and Linux.
Futronic Logon Personnal Edition, which is available for free from Futronic’s website, integrates with MS Windows so that you can logon using your fingerprint. Basically this software offers just what you need to implement a fingerprint logon on MS Windows using one of Futronic’s fingerprint readers.
After connecting the FS88 fingerprint reader to a USB port, MS Windows recognized it as Futronic Fingerprint scanner 2.0, to be able to use the device a driver had to be installed from the download section on Futronic’s website. Also we installed Futronic Logon Personal Edition 4.7, which is available for free from the same website. Installation of both driver and Futronic Logon software is straightforward.
After reboot we launched the “Finger Manager” of Futronic Logon Personal Edition from the Start menu. The software allows to enroll fingerprints and immediately link them to existing MS Windows user accounts. Additionaly the software allows to enroll fingerprints of users which do not yet have a MS Windows user account, the Futronic software then automatically creates the new user account.
Enrolling one fingerprint is sufficient however it is recommended to enroll more than one in case of injury. Enrolled users can directly start using their fingerprints to log-in or to unlock MS Windows.
The “Finger Manager” of Futronic Logon also allows exporting / importing the user database, this means that if you take regular exports (backups) of the user database no re-registration of fingerprints is required when you reinstall your system. The software allows making a few customized settings, such as:
- Recognition quality setting, setting this to ‘high’ gives lower FAR and higher FRR. Setting it to ‘low’ gives higher FAR and lower FRR; 5 different levels are possible.
Futronic recommends to set the recognition quality high by default, the software allows to set it to ‘medium’ or ‘low’ for specific users which have “hard to recognize” fingerprints (scars, elderly people, etc.) to reduce false rejects. However setting it to low might be a bad idea on some systems where security is particularly important.
- Detect fake finger, only works with a device which has liveliness detection which is the case with the FS88.
- Disable MIOT (Multifingers In One Template) is a usefull option for multi-user systems. This option makes the software detect when a user has enrolled the same finger multiple times, e.g. the user enrolled his right index finger as both index finger and thumb.
Futronic offers an addon pack to the Futronic Logon software, also for free on their website. We tested version 188.8.131.52 which has the following features:
- File encryption
- Logon to websites or other password secured applications using your fingerprint reader, a tool called “One Touch Password Filler”
We were however a bit disappointed in these functionalities. First of all file encryption did not work on MS Windows 7, when right-clicking a file in MS Windows Explorer an “Encrypt” entry was available but nothing happened when it was clicked.
It didn’t get better when we got to testing what Futronic calls their One Touch Password Filler, a small application which stores passwords of websites or applications and allows the user to logon with his fingerprint. This new feature was not user friendly and not in the least bit secure. The “One Touch Password Filler” requires to enter passwords in clear text on the screen, which I do not understand a company specialized in access control solutions can afford. This makes me fear that stored password files of this application are not even encrypted for secure storage. I understand that Futronic offers this software for free, but it would be better for their image as a company if they would only offer the Futronic Logon Personnal Edition without the addons. There exist other solutions better suited to remember your passwords and to encrypt files.
Futronic does not offer a ready-made solution to login on Linux, however they offer a free working example of their SDK on Linux. So developers wanting to use Futronic fingerprint readers on Linux can use the SDK available from Futronic.
How secure is the Futronic FS88 fingerprint reader?
The FS88 is certified by the FBI to be in compliance with PIV-071006, the Image Quality Specification (IQS) “Personal Identity Verification (PIF) Single Finger Capture Devices”. Therefore it is listed on the FIPS 201 Evaluation Program Approved Products List and as such meets FIPS 201.
The Futronic FS88 integrates well on MS Windows 7, and with Futronic Logon there is a software which offers just what is needed to enroll, manage users and to fine tune the performance of your biometric application. It is unfortunate that Futronic offers an addon pack on their website which is clearly not a finished product, they could at least have branded it as an alpha or bèta release.
Based on the limited tests we performed and on the FIPS 201 certification we can conclude that this device is a state of the art fingerprint reader.