The ECHOsystem from Fizians Inc. is certainly different. It uses audio to transmit the equivalent of a dynamic password across the network for user authentication purposes.

The origin of this signal is from a plastic 'smartcard' which contains a magnetic stripe and may be stored in the user's wallet or purse with his or her other cards.

The TelPlus branded card is a bit different, though. While being no thicker than a conventional card, it features a touch point, slightly off center and falling naturally under the thumb when holding the card.

Squeeze this touch point and the coded audio is emitted. This is picked up by an integral microphone in a laptop computer (for example) or a separate microphone attached to a desktop device.

Consider though, that the same principle might be used with other devices such as telephones or PDAs and some possibilities arise.

Fizians have provided for this with an architecture to support interactive voice response application servers as well as more conventional approaches. This is outlined in a clear and comprehensive manual, complemented by the associated SDKs with which you may configure your specific application, be it secure website access or something else. The supplied CD contains information and utilities to help. However, this is not a plug and play solution for the casual user. It requires careful planning and configuration by an experienced systems administrator who understands architectural components and how they work together.

This is an innovative product that lends itself to certain situations very well. It offers scope for an imaginative approach by application developers who may see ways to use the card pro-actively in a multi-application manner. Indeed, this may be the real strength of this product. The Fizians-stated benefit of not requiring special hardware, while true, is weakened by the plethora of USB tokens, which also do not require special hardware.

An interesting addition to the two-factor authentication tool set.

Product title
Product info
Name: ECHOsystem (Two-factor authentication group test) Description: Price: from $30 per card based on 5,000+ users
Documentation and supplied software development kit (SDK).
Will require careful configuration.
An innovative approach to two-factor authentication for relevant applications.

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