Synaptics IronVeil Fingerprint Security Technology And The Ttesports Black V2 Gaming Mouse

Synaptics was been working on a comprehensive, yet simple to use, fingerprint authentication technology that the company hopes will make a big splash with gamers and corporate users alike. Although it’s had a couple of names over the last year or so, Synaptics’ upcoming IronVeil technology -- as it is now known -- is just about ready for prime time. We’ve had the chance to play with a pre-production Ttesports Black V2 mouse featuring IronVeil for a couple of weeks and definitely think the technology has merit, for a few reasons.

IronVeil is really a combination of hardware and software. The IronVeil fingerprint sensor is designed to be integrated into the body of a mouse, located where a user’s thumb would naturally fall as he or she grabs the mouse. The scenario is that a user sits at a PC, grabs the mouse, and is quickly – and securely -- logged in without having to type a password. Conversely, the sensor could also be used to verify that the person actually holding the mouse, is who he or she claims to be.
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TteSports Black V2 Gaming Mouse With IronVeil

On the surface, that may seem similar to what’s possible with a basic fingerprint sensor, but IronVeil takes the security much further by adhering to the FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) specification. If you’re unfamiliar with FIDO, the FIDO Alliance’s goal is to “change the nature of authentication by developing specifications that define an open, scalable, interoperable set of mechanisms that supplant reliance on passwords to securely authenticate users of online services”. 

Synaptics IronVeil is compatible with the FIDO Unified Authentication Framework (UAF). With UAF, users don’t have to create a separate password and can instead rely on fingerprint authentication to register a public/private key pair. The key pair is not only unique to each user account, but also to the device and the services using it for secure login or verification information. IronVeil is also compatible with Windows Hello and Microsoft Passport is a native FIDO client as well, so the hooks to use the technology are already part of Windows 10.

And IronVeil isn’t simply about fast system access (logging in takes about 1/3 of a second). As we’ve mentioned, the technology can be used to verify users, to quickly check-out at on-line stores, website logins, etc.

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With the IronVeil-equipped Ttesports Black V2 mouse (and other mice that are on the way), Synaptics’ idea is that gamers, and organizers of large gaming tournaments where big money can sometimes be on the line, will use fingerprint authentication (potentially in conjunction with other technologies like gaze tracking) to ensure that not only has a certain user logged in, but that he or she remains the player actually using the PC/mouse throughout the session. Some major gaming tournaments are only held face-to-face because remotely ensuring the right player is participating can be difficult. And in-game transactions are becoming increasingly more common too, further necessitating the need for good user authentication.

The mechanisms to test those scenarios aren’t in place yet, but we were able to use IronVeil with Windows Hello and for quick website logins (using a beta of a utility called OmniPass) and really dig the experience.

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Setting up IronVeil couldn’t be any easier. All you have to do is install a simple piece of software Synaptics calls FPManager. When FPManager is installed and initially launched, the user is asked to input his or her Windows login credentials.

Once the login credentials have been entered, all you have to do is select a finger (or fingers) to register, and follow some on-screen prompts to place that finger over the sensor. Most right-handed users will likely choose their right-thumb as I did. After tapping the sensor a few times the FPManager app will inform the user when the registration process is complete, and you’re ready to go. The whole installation process took no more than a couple of minutes.

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When the installation was complete, we were able to login to a Windows 10 system by simply sitting in front of the machine and grabbing the mouse, making sure our finger was over the mouse’s built-in sensor. Logging in is super-fast and feels natural, because your first inclination when sitting in front of a PC is to grab the mouse anyway.

Specific details on the Ttesports Black V2 mouse with IronVeil were scarce, but availability is expected in late Q1 or Q2, with a price somewhere in the neighborhood of $60, which is only a few dollars more than the existing Black V2, so there isn’t much a premium for IronVeil.

We like where Synaptics is going with IronVeil and hope other peripheral manufacturers take note. Not only does IronVeil offer a fast and secure method for log in and user verification, but it can minimize or eliminate the need to password managers, offers a good user experience, and gives manufacturers a new and useful way to further differentiate their products. Many users already log into their phones and laptops with a fingerprint, it only makes sense for a robust fingerprint authentication method to makes its way to desktop PCs as well.