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BioRugged expands biometric product line and international presence


The main uses for BioRugged devices are biometric enrollment for KYC by mobile operators, banks, voter registration, ID cards, border control, refugee registration, population census, medical facilities, and the military

After launching new FAP60 mobile terminals among with several products earlier this year, BioRugged is opening an office and assembly plant in Europe to support the growth of its multimodal biometric product line. Earlier this year, the company also upgraded its offices in both South Africa and China with additional staff and new workspaces to meet the increasing global demand.

The company released the BioWolf 60 and 60P, the Mark 3, and the Ruggbo 20 and 30 Rug-line (R) this year to meet the needs of different use cases, and invested in its team to address product specialist shortages and provide French language sales and support. The new products build on BioRugged’s mission to push the global biometric market forward with innovative devices purpose-built for real-world identity challenges, “not to copy and paste what the rest of the industry is doing,” COO Hofmeyr Retief told Biometric Update in an email interview.

“When we entered the mobile biometric market, we saw a gap in the market because there was little to no creative thinking in the industry and the same old device and methods were just rehashed each year.”

BioRugged rolled the new devices out on the conference and trade show circuit this year, starting with the Connect:ID conference in Washington, followed by Identity Week London and ID4Africa in June, and ICPS’ 18th International Electoral Affairs Symposium in the Maldives during July.

Retief says the BioRugged planned to use the shows to demonstrate new possibilities for more efficient and cost-effective ways to enroll and verify populations. The BioWolf 60P enrollment tablet, for example, fulfills all the same requirements as a normal biometric voter registration (BVR), biometric voter verification (BVV), or enrollment kit, at roughly 45 percent of the cost, he says.

Equipment cost is one of several areas in which Retief thinks voter registration and verification programs can be improved.

“The main stumbling blocks in large scale biometric elections are the fact that the industry does not prepare in the right way for it, for example you need to prepare your population, have the process from procurement to implementation open and visible, ensure you have the necessary funding in place free from political interference and lastly make sure to procure the right equipment for your needs from a company that knows how to implement the project,” he explains.

“We have seen so many biometric projects not succeed or where biometrics is not implemented properly and in the end, the impact the new technology could have made is mitigated by poor decisions.”

While the new BioRugged products show the company’s continued drive to innovate, the company changes over the past year also show its international expansion.

BioWolf 60 and 60P

BioRugged’s new generation of 4/4/2 slap scan mobile fingerprint tablet was introduced at ID4Africa 2019 in the company’s home country South Africa. The BioWolf 60 and 60P are IP65-rated for protection against dust and pouring water, and a FAP60 fingerprint scanner from Integrated Biometrics for high-quality biometric enrollment.

The main uses for BioWolf devices are enrollment for KYC by mobile operators, banks, voter registration, ID cards, border control, refugee registration, population census, medical facilities, and the military.

“When you enroll people by capturing their fingerprints for the purpose of building an AFIS database it’s recommended that you capture all 10 fingers, this does not only prevent fraud and makes the deduplication process more secure but also allows the AFIS administrations to reuse the database in, for example, criminal cases,” Retief explains. “When capturing all 10 fingerprints your matching speed in your database can also be increased if you know what finger is the pinky, ring, middle, index, and thumb. Using a 442, slap scanner like in the BioWolf 60 and Mark 3 makes this capturing/enrolling much faster, easier and more secure.”

BioRugged will begin manufacturing the BioWorld 60 in the EU next year, and Retief says the company sees it as a perfect fit with the border control needs of many European countries.

Mark 3

The Mark 3 biometric enrolment and verification kit (BEVK) features a thermal identification card printer, and optional NFC chip encoding capabilities for instant smart ID issuance. Voter biographic information can be collected, along with fingerprint, face, and iris biometrics. The fully customizable kit includes a removable biometric Windows 10 or Android tablet, which can be used for verification once the enrollment stage is complete. It also features a sign pad and A4 document scanner, a range of fingerprint solutions from single-finger to slap (FAP20 to 60), and mobile foldable solar panels.

Dual iris biometrics are provided by ultra-compact BioIris binoculars for high quality ISO standards-compliant images with easy use by both operators and subjects, and facial images are collected with the Sony IMX179-powered BioRugged ICAO camera.

BioRugged brought the Mark 3 to the U.S. market for the first time this year at Connect:ID in Washington, DC. The company also shared the perspective that comes with deep experience in the African market with a speaking appearance and while hosting a round table discussion during the conference.

Ruggbo 20R and 30R

Like its predecessors in the Ruggbo line, the Ruggbo 20R features a FAP20 or 30 fingerprint scanner from Suprema or IB with FBI/PIV certification for guaranteed fingerprint image quality, even under extreme lighting conditions, but comes with a full HD 5.5inch sun readable screen, 2D barcode scanner and up to 16 hours of battery life.

The cost-effective Ruggbo range is designed to perform bulk verifications once programs have been rolled out.

The Ruggbo Lite model introduced the affordable IP65 hand-held Android terminal, and the Ruggbo 20R and 30R feature a 13MP deal flash and CAO-compliant onboard camera, 4GB or 64GB storage, and an optional Honeywell 1/2D bar code reader. The highly durable new devices also feature a removable battery RJ45 USB connectivity.

All three new devices address different customer requirements, and allow the company to meet the needs of a wide range of government and private sector identification projects. Retief says BioRugged is closely watching the U.S. market, where registering and verifying the identity of refugees often takes place in harsh environments, and is planning to open its first office in the country in the near future.

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