A provider of biometrics software, Identicator Technology, has signed a licensing agreement with Compaq Computer Corp. to offer fingerprint identification technology on Compaq's Desk Pro line of computers.

The $99 fingerprint reader is one of the first biometric devices to be added to desktop computers. It can be mounted on the side of a monitor or embedded in a keyboard.

Available now, the reader is intended to replace passwords for computer access. Identicator, Compaq, Microsoft Corp., and other technology companies formed a consortium earlier this year, called BioAPI, to promote on-board biometrics.

Besides increasing network security, the fingerprint device can help "lower the number of password-related calls to the help desk," said Michael Winkler, Compaq senior vice president and general manager for the personal computer products group.

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