AMREL’s New Biometric Handheld – World’s Toughest & FBI Certified

AMREL has announced the FBI’s certification of XP7-ID, the world’s most rugged biometric handheld.xp7

“This is an important milestone not just for us, but for the security and law enforcement community,” explains Richard Lane, AMREL Vice President of Strategic Business Development. “This certification will expand access to the XP7-ID, which is quite simply the most rugged highly integrated biometric smartphone in the world,”

To be on this exclusive FBI’s Certified Products Listing, the XP7-ID was tested and found to be in compliance with the FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) System Image Quality Specifications. The review of the test data was conducted by the Technology Evaluation Standards Test Unit, a part of the Biometric Center of Excellence led by the Criminal Justice Information Services Division.

“This certification is just one step on the XP7-ID journey into widespread adoption,” states Mr. Lane, “AMREL worked hard to create a ‘best of breed’ total solution platform that meets the needs of end-users. XP7-ID works on all the carrier networks including AT&T, Verizon, and FirstNet. XP7-ID has features that rival Push-To-Talk radios, live-scan booking stations, in-vehicle computers, as well as body-worn video cameras.”

AMREL developed the XP7-ID in cooperation with Integrated Biometrics. Fingerprints are captured by the industry-leading Sherlock, an Integrated Biometric module which utilizes a state-of-the-art Light Emitting Sensor.  This sensor is fully rugged, uses little power, needs less maintenance than traditional methods, and captures FAP-45 quality images.

“Integrated Biometrics is proud that our LES technology is part of the AMREL XP7-ID Biometric Smartphone, a rugged device serving mobile identity needs in any environment,” said Mike Grimes, President of Integrated Biometrics.

Although the XP7-ID is designed for use in a variety of situations, special measures were taken to serve the Public Safety community. When asked about this biometric device, Assistant Chief William ‘Bill’ Leist (Ret) California Highway Patrol replied, “The XP7-ID is designed to fit the needs of modern law enforcement. The enrollment capability for high quality fingerprint capture will save officers from making unnecessary trips to booking stations.  Furthermore, its exceptional ruggedness will ensure it will not break down at critical times.”

For system integrators as well as Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) software developers and vendors, the XP7-ID is the ultimate Android hardware solution platform. Supported with full application program interface (API), Software Development Kit (SDK) and developer portal, independent developers will be able to connect with every resource needed to build highest quality solutions for mobile identification.

Read more about the AMREL XP7-ID here.

Counter-Terrorism Lessons from Israel

As images of bloody bodies flow in from Brussels and Pakistan, we once again search for an appropriate response to the horror of a successful terrorist attack. Some people call for revenge. Others declare liberties are a luxury that we can no longer afford. Many seem stunned into inaction. What are we to do?

At AMREL, we watch these events with keen interest. Of course, like all citizens, we are concerned about terrorism, but we also wonder what our role will be in future counter-terrorism efforts. We have been supplying warfighters and security personnel with rugged mobile computing solutions for over 30 years. What will we be called on to supply next?  Will we be asked for our mobile biometric devices? Our Defense solutions?  Our Public Safety equipment? Something completely new?

I watch these events with a sickening sense of familiarity. I lived in Israel at a time of intense terrorist activity.  No country in world has been more subjected to terrorism than Israel. None take their security more seriously than Israel does.

While living there, I had an opportunity to see firsthand a country fighting terror every day. I also had numerous conversations about terrorism with Israeli intelligence, government, and military professionals (this isn’t unusual; Israel is a small country where everyone knows everyone else).

The following represents some of the lessons that I learned about terrorism while living in Israel.

Even under continuous terrorist threat, it is possible to have a free society. Of everything I experienced in Israel, this was the thing that impressed me the most. Despite a wide range of security measures, and a state of constant hyper-vigilance, Israel enjoys a robust, free-wheeling democracy. Israel may have an impressive multi-layered security regime, but Israelis did not seem intimidated by it in the slightest. Certainly, it did not restrain them from loudly expressing their opinions about the government in general and politicians in particular.

Of course, I write this as someone who is not an Arab. Arab citizens bitterly complain of discrimination. Jews counterclaim that Arabs living in Israel are freer there than they are in any other country in the Middle East.

I am not qualified to discuss the experiences of Israeli Arabs. If you wish to learn about their life in Israel, I strongly recommend the outrageously funny television show, Arab Labor. Written by an Israeli Arab, it humorously explores the bizarre experiences of living as suspected minority in a society dominated by terrorist fear. You can watch it online in a number of places, including here.

Most of impositions to liberty seem relatively trivial. In Israel, I had to carry an internal passport at all times. Can you imagine the howls from both the Left and the Right if the federal government tried to impose a system of national identification here? It’s not that Israelis are less jealous of their liberties than Americans (if anything, they distrust their government more), it’s just that they’re more accepting of the necessity of security measures. Carrying an internal passport all the time is really no different than how I teat my drivers license in the US.

Profiling works, just not in the way that you think it does. I have heard self-appointed “security experts” envy the Israeli freedom in profiling Arab minorities.

Of course, Israeli officials target Arabs for extra security measures. And young European women as well. Several years ago there was a highly publicized incident in which a terrorist tricked a young Irish woman into carrying a bomb aboard an airplane. Ever since then, Israeli security at airports carefully screens single young women. I knew one foreign visitor who had an Israeli acquaintance accompany her to airports and pretend to be her boyfriend, specifically so she could avoid the extra level of scrutiny.

Do not assume profiling will not apply to you, because…

Everybody is profiled. It’s very simple. If security only subjected Arabs to extra inspections, then terrorists would use people who didn’t look like Arabs. If security places restrictions on young men, then terrorists use women. If both young men and women are subjected to extra scrutiny, then terrorists would use old folks.

Several times a year, a high level representative of a church or government complains to a local Israeli newspaper about the “outrageous” security measures he endured at an Israeli airport. I always laugh at these tirades, because the measures he describes are the exact same ones that I and everyone else must undergo.

The next time you see a grandmother in a wheelchair being searched at an airport, don’t bemoan it as political correctness gone amuck. It’s simple common sense. Security personnel have learned what the classic cartoon Pogo once so wisely observed, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

Bigotry is a poor counter-terrorist strategy. Very few genuine counter-terrorists experts in the United States embrace the view that all Arabs or all Moslems are our enemy. They are fully aware that Arabs and Moslems are the primary victims of radicalized Islamic terror, and serve as our allies (if uneasy ones) in the war against terror.

In Israel, “They all want to kill us” is an extremely popular view. However, this hasn’t stopped Israeli military and intelligence from cooperating with Palestinian authorities on counter-terrorists actions. It’s not unusual to read a complaint from the Israeli Prime Minister’s office about the Palestinian leadership inciting violence, while in the same newspaper the head of an Army unit is quoted as praising his Palestinian counterpart for a successfully destroying a terrorist cell.

Painting all Moslems or Arabs with the same terrorist brush turns assets into liabilities and converts allies into enemies. We have to be smarter than that.

Kabuki theater works. Waiting in line to enter a mall while some under-paid guard searches backpacks and women’s purses, someone will inevitably comment that these inconvenient security measures are stupid and pointless. No determined terrorist would be deterred by these farcically ineffective procedures.

Except that they are. I’ve read interviews with would-be suicide bombers and other terrorists about their thought processes as they prepare to attack. A major factor in their consideration is the same silly security measures that are widely mocked. What seems stupid to us, is intimidating to a terrorist.

Terrorism is the new normal. While writing this article, I talked to a people who had traveled through the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, and South Korea. Each of these countries has experienced problems with terrorism and has instituted counter-measures.

Along with cell phones, television, and the internet, magnetic wands and metal detectors are the technologies that will define our time.

Terrorists adapt. Every few years Israel experiences waves of terror. A while back, suicide bombers were a problem. At the time, the problem seemed insurmountable. None of Israel’s traditional security methods seemed effective.

So, Israel developed new security methods. Among other things, they built a highly controversial security wall to keep out terrorists. Israelis increased surveillance on possible terrorists and with more help from the Palestinian security services than they like to admit, this particular wave of attacks has been thwarted. Deaths and incidents died down.

And then they started again. It hasn’t gotten much publicity in this country, but Israel is undergoing what is sometimes referred to as the “Lone Wolf” Intifada. Individuals, seemingly unconnected to any organization, are randomly stabbing people. In the last 6 months, 34 Israelis have been killed and 404 have been wounded.

Just like with earlier wave of terrorism, no one seems to know what to do. No one is sure what will be effective countermeasures. Despite the anxieties being expressed now in the Israeli media, I have no doubt that Israel’s highly motivated security establishment will eventually devise effective defense actions.

Unfortunately, their enemies will then figure out a new way of attacking them. In a war of terror, the side that is the most innovative and flexible will always have the advantage.

Is your smartphone more reliable than your desktop?

I have encountered an interesting prejudice. Some people have confidently informed me that the smaller the form factor, the more reliable it is.  Laptops are more reliable than desktops, but less reliable than tablets, which aren’t as rugged as handhelds.

To be clear, whatever rugged platform AMREL sells you – tablet, laptop, or handheld – it has been built for the utmost reliability.   We build our computing solutions as if lives depend on them, because a lot of the times lives do depend on them.

If you have never heard of the “smaller is more dependable” myth, don’t worry about it; most of the experts that I talked to never heard of it either.  In fact, for reasons, which will be explained, it doesn’t make sense on multiple levels.

Still, I wondered why some people might think their smaller platforms are more dependable. Here are few theories.

The problem is not the hardware, but the operating system (OS). Most desktops still use Windows, while many smaller form factors do not.  Some point to Windows as the culprit behind the “bigger is more unreliable” myth. Windows has a number of issues which could contribute to more frequent breakdowns.

For one thing, the Windows OS on your desktop has a lot of updates, whereas the Android OS on your smartphone may be frozen.  Frequent updates create more points of failure and more “bloated” software. Furthermore, Windows seeks updates during the boot process, which can overload the CPU, leading to a significantly slower starting time.

Legacy issues are another cause of “bloated” software.  Your brand new Windows OS has to accommodate programs that were written when floppy discs were still considered an exciting new innovation. This leads to complications, more resources being used, and just more problems. Also, developers for the newer Android OS can learn from the mistakes that Windows has made previously.

Some claim that Windows is more susceptible to malware and viruses than the OS typically used on smartphones.  This makes sense considering how much older and widespread Windows OS are.

In addition to the Windows OS, some point the finger at poorly written applications. Apple is notoriously strict about the apps than can run on its equipment. Windows less so.

Nope, hardware is the problem. Supposedly, hardware used in laptops and desktops are much more varied than those found in tablets and smartphones. This is more challenging for their OS, and a more diverse supply chain contributes to quality issues.  I am not sure this is true, but some folks believe it.

More flexibility means less rigidity, which means less reliability. You have a lot more options on your desktop than your smartphone. A simpler, locked-in, frozen device has less ways of fouling up.  It is more likely that your machine gun will jam than your sword will break.

The simplicity of the smaller form factors means they’re easier to upgrade. All computer companies constantly improve their platforms. However, smartphone manufacturers have an easier time of fixing problems, because of the more limited nature of their solutions. Again, I am not sure I totally buy this explanation, but it is an argument that I have heard.

Actually, smartphones are not more reliable than desktops. We throw away broken smartphones. We repair desktops. We mentally compartmentalize the two tasks differently, so we think never think about debugging smartphones, whereas we remember the frequent annoying calls to tech support for our desktops.  Think of how often you buy a smartphone as compared to how often you buy a laptop or desktop.

The “smaller is more reliable” myth is really, stupid and reflects a fundamental misunderstanding about technology. By far and away, this was the sentiment that I heard expressed the most by AMREL’s engineers.

“Compared to a smartphone, a desktop is a large truck,” explained Magnus Pyk, AMREL’s Director of Engineering. “It has more power, more torque, and just more room for more stuff. You can put an entire recording studio on a desktop, far more than what a tablet or smartphone is capable of. Smaller form factors are lowered powered, simpler systems. This is worse than comparing apples to oranges.”

In other words, you can’t compare the different platforms, because they are not comparable. They are built for entirely different range of capabilities. A compact car might get better gas mileage than a tank, but if I had to go into battle, I know which vehicle I would want.

Whatever form factor you do decide on, you may want to check out AMREL’s complete list of offerings.  No matter what size platform you choose, we have one that you will absolutely, positively be able to depend on.

Nine Defense Questions for the Next President

If you were to hire a CEO for a company with a budget of $600+ billion, wouldn’t you ask them some questions about it?  Wouldn’t you want to know if they were familiar with company’s programs, and how they intend to manage them?

Evidently, the media and politicians don’t think so.  Sure, Senator Sanders has bragged about his bill to help veterans, and many politicians have vowed to strengthen the military. However, no one is asking the candidates the most basic questions about how they intend to oversee Defense spending, which is approximately half the Federal budget.

Here is a list of questions that I think every candidate should be asked.  None of them concern trivial matters and all reflect actual decisions the next president will have to make. A presidential answer to any of these questions would profoundly affect strategic thinking in capitals all around the world and cause billions of dollars (if not more) to change hands.

  1. Drawdown With the wind down of our involvement in Asian land wars, the ARMY is experiencing a personnel drawdown. As president would you continue this drawdown? If not, then how do you justify maintaining the ARMY’s larger size in the current world situation? If you would continue the drawdown, how would you do it?  Would you do it the way that it was done in the 1990s with an early retirement program, or would you limit recruitment of new enlistees?
  2. Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) Funding Our recent wars have been funded through the OCO.  Would you continue doing this, or would you fund future military operations through the main Defense budget? How would your decision affect sequestration?
  3. F-35 The F-35 program has been heavily criticized and there have even been calls for its cancellation. Do you intend to keep the F-35 program or cancel it?  If you intend to maintain it, how would you improve it? If you intend to cancel it, what would you replace it with?
  4. Procurement reform  While the people who work in acquisition may be professional and honest, the Defense procurement process itself has a terrible reputation. How do you plan to reform defense acquisition?
  5. Redundancy Do you think that redundancy is a problem in the Pentagon? If you do not think it is, then you’re an idiot and no further questions are necessary. If you do think it is a problem, how do you do plan to deal with it?
  6. “Pacific Tilt” Do you plan to implement the current administration’s “Pacific Tilt?” How will your decision affect Defense spending priorities?
  7. Pentagon audit Contrary to federal law, the Department of Defense has never passed an audit. They do not even have relational database for their inventory.  As president, how do plan to deal with this problem?  Do you support the Audit the Pentagon Act of 2015, which was co-sponsored by Senators Sanders and Cruz?
  8. War on terror How do perceive the military’s role in the War on Terror? How would this affect spending priorities?
  9. Budget Do you plan to increase or decrease Defense spending? What funding do you plan to cut?  Where do you plan to increase spending?

By the way, I think a perfectly fine answer to some of these questions is “I do not know.” The President is Commander-in-Chief, not a miracle worker.  But we should expect him to have at least a cursory familiarity with these challenges, and he should give us an idea of he would manage them.  AMREL has an interest in Defense management, since we have been supplying warfighters with customized mobile rugged computer solutions for over 30 years. Along with you, we will be very closely watching this election and our new president.