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New parental control device protects our children

An Israeli company has developed a unique device that can recognize the age of children and adults thus allowing parents to control their childrens access to restricted websites. The same technology might also be used to prevent pedophiles from accessing children and teenagers chat rooms.

The Israeli company i-Mature has developed a unique biometric device that can determine a user age group. The device which can be connected to any computer, laptop, web capable cell phone or PDA has a tiny low-frequency ultrasound device that is used to scan one of the user's fingers and determine his or her age group. The ultrasound is used to measure the bone structure and composition of the user, features which change significantly from childhood to maturity. By placing his or her finger on the small ultrasound scanner, the device performs a series of tests and assigns the user to a specific age group (i.e., under 13, under 17 and adult). i-Mature also claims it can change the age group divisions according to the market demand.

i-Mature Age-Group Recognition (AGR) system is designed to protect children in two different ways. First, as with existing parental control software, it restricts the childs access to unauthorized websites. But unlike software-based applications, the AGR relies on a hardware (ultrasound) mechanism that is much harder to bypass by a non-adult. The AGR system could also be installed on public computers and at home and provide maximum-protected surfing for children. Another way in which the system could benefit child safety is by allowing the creation of adult-free chat rooms. Around the world there is a growing concern from pedophiles abusing children through chat rooms. By using AGR to restrict chat rooms to children under a specific age, parents can feel safe knowing their children are not the victims of pedophiles and sexual perverts.

i-Mature, which was founded in 2002, has already completed the development phase of the devices prototype and received successful proof of the technology. The completion of the pre-industrial design prototype is currently contemplated for June 2005. The company aims to market the AGR system at an affordable $25 price tag.

Iddo Genuth

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