News Archive : Japan Real Estate

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Biometric systems popular with condo buyers

Biometric systems popular with condo buyers

By JUNKO SUZUKI
Kyodo News

With crime rising, an increasing number of condominiums are being equipped with biometric security systems able to identify people by scanning their faces, fingerprints or other physical characteristics.

Biometric technology is currently used at nuclear power plants, research institutes and other facilities requiring high security. Now condominiums touting their enhanced safety features are incorporating the technology to attract singles and two-income families.

Japan General Estate Co. began selling condominiums in 2004 whose entrances come equipped with automatic locks and a biometric security system that identifies residents by scanning their irises.

Irises, like fingerprints, are unique to each individual. The system works by taking a photograph of the iris of the person seeking entry and comparing it with the irises of residents stored on the system to make an identification.

The real estate developer took notice of biometric security systems early on. In the latter half of the 1990s, it sold condominiums equipped with locks that used fingerprint scanners to identify residents. But the systems had trouble identifying fingerprints if the person being scanned had dry skin, which led the company to suspend sales of such condominiums.

"Identification is smooth with the iris. (Even) if you are holding baggage in both hands, you do not have to produce a key. It is very convenient," said Kazuaki Hatsuzawa, an employee of the company's building department.

Japan General Estate is currently selling 38 blocks of condominiums equipped with the biometric security systems in 28 locations in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture. So far, it has sold or placed on the market around 4,200 such condominiums.

Meiwajisyo Co. plans to install a security system that identifies people by the pattern of blood vessels in the palms of their hands in a condominium block to be completed in Chigasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, in March.

The man in charge of the development said the condominiums are aimed at double-income families and singles. "Sales are targeted at crime-conscious people, and the response (to the system) has been large," he said.

Daikyo Inc., Orix Real Estate Corp. and other developers are constructing condominium blocks with biometric systems and the number of these buildings is expected to continue to increase.

The systems, however, aren't perfect. People are sometimes denied entry due to differences between the iris or blood vessel pattern on file and those scanned at the entrance.

The Japan Times: Nov. 22, 2005
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