Thursday, July 23, 2009

Beauty and the Beast

Customers are often impressed by FingerTec products and marketing materials; so much better than the rivals, they say. And I heard some colleagues label me as a perfectionist.

But I know FingerTec is still far from being perfect, and me from being a perfectionist.

When I read the book “Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs” by Daniel Lyons, I think in terms of beauty standard, I am no match to him even in comparison to the fake Steve in the book.

Steve Jobs
Let’s see how the fake Steve amused us from the below excerpt:

It is Tuesday afternoon. I am barefoot, sitting on a cushion in the lotus position, gazing at a circuit board. This board, no bigger than a playing card, has taken years to create. It is the heart of iPhone, the most important object my engineers have ever assembled. And it is wrong, I do not know why, exactly. But it is wrong. By this I do not mean that the board does not function correctly. It functions perfectly. But it lacks beauty. My engineers argue that a circuit board need not be beautiful, since no one will ever see it.

“Yes,” I say, “but I will know it is there. And I will know that is not beautiful.”

For ordinary or non-artistic people, his reaction might seem funny, irrational, or even bizarre. But as an eccentric artist, the tolerant level is none, zero, nada. As an artist, it doesn’t matter whether his audiences notice the imperfection or not, if he detected it, he has to make it ‘right’. This explains why some of the ‘perfect’ paintings as perceived by ordinary eyes, were destroyed by the artists themselves, without hesitation.

Besides all the technologies that make it a superb smartphone, Apple’s iPhone is a piece of art by itself. I was admirably impressed when I received my iPhone: a beautiful glossy black box; inside, cushioned in black velvet, is the rounded edges, sleek, thin and light object, like a piece of crafted jewelry. Solid. And perfect.

What else, if not iPhone?

Can FingerTec deliver a product such as iPhone that is appraised by many for its artistic craftsmanship?

As an industrial product, we have to prioritize reliability, robustness and cost-effectiveness; beautiful exterior has to come next.

But as an art lover, I would never let something ugly slipping into our production line, or printed matters that convey only messages without being complemented with beauty. I strongly believe that artistic value enhances desire to purchase. That’s what makes iPod and iPhone successful products.

Nowadays when customers are spoilt for choices, between Beauty and the Beast, what’s your pick?

Our magazine ads

No matter how scarce our resources are in comparison to Apple, most of the tasks related to FingerTec involve skilled designers.

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ

Monday, July 13, 2009

Face Recognition, The Next Big Thing

"The thicker face the face, the harder the verification”

“Sorry…the machine doesn’t recognize ugly people.”

“A little make-up would help the machine.”

“You’re possibly not a human, access denied!”

“Sometimes it does matter if you’re black or white! Auwww!!” – MJ style certainly.
The R&D guys joked when the prototype failed to recognize faces back then. Some of them even suggested having these kinds of greetings in the machine, which obviously was shot down immediately by the more sane ones.

2 + 3D Face Recognition Algorithm

Recognize this face?

Having our past experiences in the biometrics industry, gradually we had to diversify our research and development into other areas, and we choose to develop face recognition. The road to commercialization stumbled upon engineering and re-engineering of the 2+3D face recognition algorithm. After myriads of denials from the marketing department over time, the overall outcome now is positive.

So, another market revolution can be expected, this time, led by face recognition.

According to a research report, face recognition would keep its status quo in between 16-18% for another 6 years, whereas fingerprint technology will slowly lost its momentum, from current market share of 55%, gradually declined to 31% in 2015 for a combination of private and public sector.

Ready For The Change
Of course, the market development might not always follow the forecast. Especially for high-tech products, if the time is ripe and the product is right, you have higher opportunity to change the world, or to prove expert’s projection is rather conservative or wrong.

This time, we are more than ready when come to term with the new biometric technology and market. We understand the customers better, more aware of their requirements, and the market acceptance would be easier, we reckon.

For instance, facial recognition is truly contactless when embed with one-to-many verification technology. Every time you want to gain an access, or to check in for attendance, what you need to do is just to stand before the reader, it will scan and verify; or flash an RFID card prior to the process if the reader is incorporated with RFID functionality.

Our Face Recognition Roadmap

FingerTec FaceID 2 (artist's impression)
FingerTec FaceID 2E (artist's impression)

We will introduce two new products simultaneously into the market before year end with a codename FaceID 2 and FaceID 2E respectively. The first, FaceID 2 would be a combination of fingerprint and face recognition technology, providing options for users either to use single method, or a combination depending on their security needs.

The latter, FaceID 2E, would be an external face recognition reader which can be plugged into FingerTec existing fingerprint reader models through USB port. (Note: Only apply to future batch of FingerTec reader models with USB port)

Standalone face recognition reader only without any fingerprint module, is also in our pipeline, schedule to be launched by 2010.

For our existing partners, prepare yourself for a shake-up in biometrics market. Please bear in mind that when opportunity knocks, you can either open your door or you can let it pass.

FingerTec once again will abide by our philosophy, to lowering the entry barrier and making high-tech products mass; and most importantly, our brand is tagged with an affordable price.

by Teh Hon Seng, CEO, FingerTec HQ