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
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: Customer Relations Officer

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: IT Help Desk Support

£14500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An IT Help Desk Support individ...

Recruitment Genius: Interim HR Advisor

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are going through an excitin...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£37500 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced Quantity Surveyor r...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable