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Intel quietly acquired Israeli biometrics firm IDesia for an undisclosed amount, it was revealed this week. And the chipmaker's plans for IDesia are shrouded in as much mystery as the details surrounding the transaction.
Unlike other firms that develop software and systems that provide biometric authentication using fingerprinting or facial recognition -- which can be circumvented -- the 14-person start-up takes a unique approach. IDesia's mobile technology identifies users by the telltale differences in their heartbeats.
The news first surfaced in Globes, a business news website from Israel. According to the report, Intel's Perceptual Computing group is responsible for the deal. Why not McAfee, which kick-started Intel's security software push with a mammoth $7.7 billion deal?
According to the company's website -- now taken offline -- IDesia specializes not only in accurately identifying users by their heartbeats, it also mentions gadgets that can "keep you healthy."
IDesia tech dovetails with the rising adoption of mobile devices in healthcare settings and could further Intel's efforts to popularize perceptual computing -- the use of sensors and software to imbue devices with context awareness. The IDesia deal could also potentially lend Intel's healthcare IT initiatives some added momentum.
For now, however, Intel remains silent on how IDesia fits into its business strategy. Could a heartbeat-identifying device be in Intel's future?
Statements made by IDesia's co-founder and CEO, Dr. Daniel Lange, hint that the Intel buy provided an exit in an environment that makes it tough to finance the launch of an electronics device, despite its uniqueness.
Lange tells Globes, "Identification on the basis of heartbeat is not a biometric measurement recognized by any government body, we concentrated in recent years on sales in the consumer products sector and in this field large capital is needed to penetrate markets, and in Israel it is difficult to raise capital for an end-use electronic product."
Selling to Intel gives IDesia's tech a good chance of seeing the light of day, according to comments made by Lange. "I would be happier if the company had not had to be sold because in my opinion it has great potential," he states, indicating that the decision to sell was a tough one to make.