Card that carries a coded image: A system that can squeeze a picture on to a data strip may be used to tackle fraud

SOCIAL SECURITY and Post Office officials are considering introducing a video identity card to help cut benefit fraud.

The card would look like a credit card but would include a half-inch wide strip containing a digitised version of the face of the card's owner and key personal details.

Swiping the strip through a special reader allows it to convert the digital code back into an image and readable text. For extra security, this digital code can be scrambled so it can be deciphered only by an authorised reader unit.

Its developers, a company called DataStrip, from Esher, Surrey, say the strip system has huge anti-fraud potential, not just in tackling benefit fraud, but also in rendering passports and visa documents more difficult to forge.

The system might be used at airports to link passengers and luggage, or as a quick reference for accident victims. Information could have two levels of access - one for use only by paramedics, such as blood groups, with more detailed medical information accessible only to hospital staff. Eventually, the strip might include other details such as the pattern of veins on a wrist.

John Watt, chief executive of DataStrip, was reluctant to describe the system as a cheap and cheerful version of a 'smartcard' - the plastic cards with a miniature computer chip currently under test as an alternative way to pay on some city-centre bus routes - but he said his strip card system can carry almost as much data as a smartcard at a fraction of the cost.

The trick is in the compression technique used to squash data on to the three-inch strip. Current techniques can squeeze the code needed to build up an image down to 20 per cent of its original volume and still produce a recognisable picture. DataStrip's engineers have compressed this still further, so the code takes up only 3 per cent of its original volume.

Information in this digitised form can be photocopied and faxed, allowing companies to exchange business statistics in a compressed, secure form. The developers believe the system should also pose fewer problems for civil liberties campaigners wary of smartcards because they claim it is relatively easy to change the information stored in the card's memory. Once the data strip is printed, whether on to paper, card or plastic, it should be difficult to tamper with.

The approach should also prove more robust than a smartcard, whose chip can be physically damaged. If embedded into the plastic of a card, the data cannot be removed, DataStrip claims, even if attacked with a penknife.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee CAD Technician

£12800 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee CAD Technician is req...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000+

£15600 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This renewable energy installat...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Liverpool - up to £28,000

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: This is a large multi-site operation...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss