The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Try losing this phone

Tokyo, Oct. 28 (AP): A new mobile phone in Japan takes security pretty seriously: it can recognise its owner, automatically locks when the person gets too far away from it and can be found via satellite navigation if it goes missing.

The P903i from NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s top mobile carrier, comes with a small black card about the size of a movie-ticket stub. The card works as a security key by connecting wirelessly with the cell phone.

If an owner keeps the card in a bag or pocket, the phone recognises when the card moves too far away and locks automatically to prevent someone from making a call.

People who lose their security cards can punch in a password to unlock the phone. But they will have to buy a new card to set the lock again.

The extra security is handy because, like other recent Japanese phones, the P903i can be used as a credit card or a prepaid cash card.

Of course, the new security feature won’t prevent snoops from getting information from the phone — reading personal emails, say — if it is within the set distance of the security key.

To guard against such intruders, users can activate the phone’s facial identification feature.

Here’s how that works. Owners must first take at least three photos of themselves with the phone’s camera. Up to 10 can be shot, in various situations — with and without glasses, indoors and outdoors.

Then, if the facial-recognition feature is turned on, before accessing the handset a user has to take a picture of himself with the camera. The phone analyses features such as distance between the eyes and unlocks if the image matches the stored data.

A separate function recognises whether the eyes are blinking — in case someone tries to show the owner’s photo to gain fraudulent entry. Not only that, a four-letter password can be added to this process, to guard against an identical twin getting unauthorised access.

“Security is increasingly a key function for mobile phones as they become loaded with more sophisticated features,” said NTT DoCoMo spokeswoman Mamiko Tanaka. “Handset makers are all competing to come up with interesting ways to strengthen security.”

Should the P903i get lost, the user can track it with its onboard Global Positioning System.

Pricing for the phone, manufactured by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. and planned for sale in the next few months, has not yet been announced. Using the GPS service to look for a missing phone will cost $2.50 a pop.

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