Inventor gets patent for optical access key

June 18, 2008--Although modulated light is already a widely used way to convey information (for example in fiber-optic networks), an inventor in Marietta, PA has just obtained a United States patent that covers the use of "rapidly flickering lamps" such as LEDs or lasers to convey optical codes such as security codes.

June 18, 2008--Although modulated light is already a widely used way to convey information (for example in fiber-optic networks), an inventor in Marietta, PA has just obtained a United States patent that covers the use of "rapidly flickering lamps" such as LEDs or lasers to convey optical codes such as security codes. The light sources in Nick Bromer's invention are used to convey optical codes that can be used to unlock everything from a garage to a computer, access a bank account or data files, or perform similar tasks by transmitting a security code in about a thousandth of a second. The flickering lamp can be embedded in a key, credit or debit card, identification tag, passport, and other items. The patent (Triggered Flickering Tag) is number 7,374,106.

"This system is much more secure than RFID," says Bromer, referring to radio-frequency ID, which is often used for access control. "Our optical key only flickers when externally powered by an electrical voltage from the reader, so it is impossible to 'skim' the code, read it remotely, or accidentally emit the code. By using simple light baffles, even the flicker emitted into a reader can be shielded. The level of security is very high." Bromer notes that his optical keys can also be made impossible to reprogram, unlike a magnetic-strip card that can be erased and rewritten without changing its appearance.

Reliability is also very high, according to the inventor, because the data is locked into a memory chip of the type used in computers, which almost never lose their data. In addition, the flickers provide an accurate way to transfer information to the reader.

This patent is the fourth in a family of patents, which have broad applications for supply chain management, manufacturing, homeland security and access control. U. S. Patents 7,232,067 (Registering Multiple Similar Items with Flickers), 7,061,395 (Locating Items with Flickering Lamps) and 6,476,715 (Land Vehicle Identification By Flickering Lamps) have already issued.

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