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New IDKey Fingerprint Scanner Stores Passwords, Files

The new IDKey M-Series from Sonavation, at CES 2015.

The new IDKey M-Series from Sonavation, at CES 2015.

LAS VEGAS -- Passwords and encrypted storage can all be at your fingertips -- literally -- with the new IDKey M-Series fingerprint scanner from Sonavation.

Announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) here, the new IDKey M-Series is a palm-sized portable fingerprint scanner that uses ultrasound to get nuanced 3D images of users' fingertips. Starting at $279, the IDKey M-Series will go on sale this March.

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The IDKey's built-in ultrasound scanner takes three-dimensional images of your finger's ridges and whorls, right down to the size and placement of your pores. This high level of nuance means the IDKey can't be tricked by techniques such as those demonstrated by German hacker Jan "Starbug" Krissler.

Last month, Krissler demonstrated that he could take public photos of people's fingers, turn the images into wood-glue models of the fingerprint, and use those models to unlock an iPhone's Touch ID fingerprint scanner. In 2013, he was the first person, but not the last, to fool Touch ID with a latex fingerprint.

The IDKey's in-depth ultrasound imaging makes it foolproof, the Sonavation representative assured me at CES. To activate it, you just drag your finger over a small pad near the device's tip.

The IDKey M-series features 16 gigabytes of AES-256-encrypted storage space. You can use this to store passwords for online accounts such as Amazon, Google and more.

To use the IDKey to sign into online accounts, you'll need to use Sonavation's free Google Chrome extension. When you get on the computer, plug the IDKey in via a USB connection, then swipe your finger. You can then use the plugin to see a list of the accounts you've stored in the device. Simply click on the account: the IDKey will autofill your password and you'll be logged in. 

You can also use the IDKey as an encrypted USB storage device for important files. With Sonavation's accompanying iOS and Android apps, you can take photos and voice recordings with your mobile phone that are saved directly to the IDKey's secure storage, not on your smartphone.

The IDKey also has an NFC (near-field communications) chip with a Secure Element storage space, which can be used in place of a payment card should any banks or payment systems enter into a partnership with Sonavation. 

Jill Scharr is a staff writer for Tom's Guide, where she regularly covers security, 3D printing and video games. You can follow Jill on Twitter @JillScharr and on Google+. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.