Fingerprint reader

Priva Technologies Inc., Arlington, Va., has introduced a universal serial bus-based fingerprint reader that is small enough to fit onto a keychain.

The company offers the device as part of an identity management solution, which ranges from $40 to $130 per user per year, said Jeff Minushkin, chairman and CEO of Priva. The microchip powering the device can also be embedded in cellular telephones and handheld computers.

Project: Mars rovers

Agency: NASA

Partners

* BAE Systems North America Inc., Rockville, Md.

* Wind River Systems Inc., Alameda, Calif.

Goal

BAE was tasked with providing computer subsystems for the Mars rovers, intelligent vehicles that will travel around the planet collecting soil and atmosphere samples and relaying them to an orbiting satellite. Because an unrecoverable computer crash would constitute failure of the mission, the operating system must be 100 percent reliable -- it cannot break down.

Obstacle

Most operating systems could not be trusted with that level of reliability, yet for BAE to write a bug-free operating system from scratch would be prohibitively costly.

 

Solution

BAE chose an industrial-use operating system for embedded systems offered by Wind River. Called VxWorks, this real-time operating system is frequently used by carmakers and other manufacturers for no-fail automated assembly lines. Wind River also provided remote diagnostic software for problems that might occur while in operation.

Payoff

BAE delivered computer subsystems that are ex-tremely reliable while it kept costs under budget.

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