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BIO-key’s compact EcoID and SideTouch fingerprint readers enable biometrics for Windows


With the release of Windows 10, many consumers are quick to notice changes to the Start Menu and Action Center, but the new Windows Hello identity management program may be the improvement with the most lasting impact. BIO-key has launched a pair of new fingerprint readers to allow consumers to take full advantage of biometrics to secure their non-mobile or less-mobile devices.

BIO-key’s EcoID for desktops and SideTouch for tablets and laptops leverage the biometric capabilities built into Windows 10, which offers an easy break from the password as the primary means of authentication.

Windows Hello allows the user to choose to use a sensor like the EcoID to log on to their Windows 10 account. Advanced features of Hello will be introduced soon allowing customers to use their biometrics to sign in to popular websites and applications.

The EcoID features a 12mm x 17mm Active Thermal sensor from NEXT Biometrics, providing 180×256 pixel resolution, housed in a small but durable plastic shell, adorned with rubber sections to keep it from sliding around on your work surface, and a USB slot.


The SideTouch captures fingerprints with a 7.8mm squared IDEX Eagle II sensor at 113×115 pixel resolution, and a lower power draw than the EcoID (less than 25 ma at 5 to 5.5 volts) to avoid draining device power.


Both the EcoID and SideTouch are billed as USB 2.0 plug and play. I ended up rebooting between driver installation and enrollment for both, which may be a Windows Hello issue, but either way setup after that is as quick and easy as the most efficient password setups.

I did see a message a few times telling me that the device was having trouble recognizing me and recommending cleaning it, but it usually logged me in a fraction of a second later. Apparently the error will be fixed with a Windows Update driver download in the near future. BIO-key also have an option for an immediate fix through its support section on its website.

If I can nitpick, I wish the USB cable the EcoID came with was a bit longer than three feet, so I could set it up on the other side of my keyboard without hunting around for a longer one.

BIO-key has priced the line of readers at $39.99 each and the design clearly indicates mass market intentions. Both devices can also be used with BIO-key enterprise software to manage privileges, and it’s easy to imagine how these devices can easily enhance security in an enterprise environment especially one dealing with sensitive information or with shared workstations.

There is an overwhelming wealth of evidence in favor of “modern” or “post password” authentication methods for not just enterprise users with high level security privileges, but enterprise users generally and even consumers. The devices will become more essential for general online identity management with each new app and website that adds support for Hello authentication. Ultimately, the EcoID and SideTouch both make it easy to leverage the biometric capabilities of Windows 10 to secure devices and applications.

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