Sandia Imaging Systems has introduced an inexpensive reader for decoding fingerprints or other biometric data at automated teller machines and other transaction points.

The $750 reader, called GlyphScan, reads DataGlyphs, a secure type of data storage that Sandia markets as an alternative to chip-embedded cards. The reader was developed for Sandia by the XL Vision unit of Safeguard Scientifics.

With DataGlyphs, digitally encrypted fingerprints and other information can be hidden behind other graphic elements on a card's surface, avoiding the need for dedicated space. About 3,000 bytes of read-only data can be stored on a wallet-size card at a cost of less than 50 cents. That is 10 times the capacity of a magnetic stripe, which costs the same but is considered much less secure.

Sandia, a subsidiary of New Mexico-based Lasertechnics Inc., calls its device a "chipless smart card."

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