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BioRugged to showcase new low-cost mobile biometric devices at ID4Africa


BioRugged will showcase several new devices at its exhibit booth at the upcoming ID4Africa conference, in a major expansion of its portfolio of mobile biometric products.

Among the hardware products it will present are the Suprema BioWolf LE biometric tablet, a mobile solution for smart card printing, and the Ruggbo 20 and 30 prototypes.

ID4Africa 2017, being held in Windhoek, Namibia, April 26-28, is the third annual conference of ID4Africa, a multi-stakeholder organization promoting digital legal identity development on the continent.

Originally focussed on know-your-customer (eKYC) solutions, BioRugged began developing hardware for mobile biometrics six years ago, and has evolved into a major device provider, not just for the African market, but globally. Its devices have been used to register 300 million people in KYC SIM card projects world wide. Their software portfolio in conjunction with Axon Wireless includes enrollment (KYC), universal identification and verification, census, border control, and registrations.

The company primarily focuses on African, South American, Middle Eastern, and East Asian markets, BioRugged COO Hof Retief told Biometric Update in an exclusive interview. Its devices are available, however, wherever there is a need and a BioRugged distribution partner.

BioRugged has a clearly defined core market and bold ambitions, Retief says, intending “to become a go-to name in mobile biometrics. Over 60 percent of the world’s population lives in rural or poorer areas. Especially in terms of refugees, opening bank accounts, and registering for SIM cards. Our devices are all aimed at these markets.”

Discussing the needs of the company’s home continent of Africa, Retief sees mobile enrollment and ID card delivery as a key to successful national identification programs. Retief is excited about the possibilities of the new mobile ID registration and card printing station developed in conjunction with HID. “Transport is a big problem, and we feel that’s why many people don’t have national ID cards, our solution now delivers the ID to the people.”

BioRugged solution directly addresses this widespread problem. “You have a low-cost, very rugged, portable device, so you can go into the poorer rural areas and cheaply register people and gather information.” The number of cards the device can print is limited only by the number of toner cartridges, which provide roughly 500 cards each, available on location.

Another new product the company will showcase at ID4Africa is the Biowolf LE, which integrates a fingerprint sensor from Suprema, into a durable tablet PC.

With a price point starting at around $100, BioRugged devices are much more affordable than those from competitors like Morpho or Credence ID, Retief says. With volumes like 30,000 units deployed to Nigeria, 6,000 to Ethiopia and 15,000 to Ivory Coast, the savings potential is enormous, according to Retief. “There is a couple of million dollars’ difference between us and the competition, companies gets excited when they can save a couple of million on a government-mandated project.”

BioRugged consults with customers and partners to provide solutions customized to their application. By determining why the hardware is required, who will use the device, what it will be used for, and where it will be used, the company is able to tailor the hardware to the specific demands of the use case, ultimately contributing to successful mobile identification projects. This approach to development is also what enables BioRugged to show off 20 different devices, covering a range of applications, at ID4Africa 2017.

“Last year ID4Africa was very good for us. One of our big aims in coming to these conferences are to find distributors.” Retief says. He invites all conference attendees to visit BioRugged’s booth E2 at the conference. “Seeing is believing, and people want to see and touch and play with what you have.”

“As our name spreads, people come to realize that they can come to us if they want something special,” Retief says.

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