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Picking a winner in the high-tech race

Feb 19, 2002 7:26 AM

Science, or science fiction? That was the question du jour as a dozen high-tech companies displayed their wares at the Interactive Gaming Technology show last week.

Offering gadgetry ranging from global positioning satellites to cadence-counting keyboards, vendors continue to fuel the campaign for Internet gaming.

“There’s definitely technology that will work for intrastate use, and there’s probably technology for the Internet. But there are a lot of holes that need to be plugged,’’ said Tony Fontaine, Station Casinos’ vice president of interactive gaming.

Fontaine’s technical reservations were compounded by the political perils, as Congress ”” which one presenter dubbed a purveyor of “disorganized crime’’ ”” considers an outright ban on Net gaming. Undaunted, tech firms from across the country gathered at UNLV to showcase products they say will facilitate secure web wagering. Among them:

”¡ GET-SSP ”” Specializes in embedded security products, such as 128k microchips on smart cards. A relative newcomer to gaming, the GET-SSP alliance has an equity position with Innovative Gaming Corp. of America and boasts a client list that includes the Department of Defense, the National Security Agency and the Bank of America.

”¡ QUOVA ”” Provides geographic location of website visitors in real time. The company’s clients include WagerWorks, Ladbrooks and Amazon.

”¡ QUIXOTIC SOLUTIONS ”” Holds international patents on a Secure Game Contract, which prevents cheating by any player or provider. Components include encryption, firewalls, audit surveys and quality reviews.

”¡AUTHENTIFY ”” Offers telephone-based identity management solutions that curb Internet fraud. “Who knows where you are? The phone company. And we can read what the phone system knows,’’ said John Zurawski, vice president of sales and marketing.

”¡ BIOPASSWORD ”” A user-identification technology that learns unique typing patterns to verify the user.

The technical challenges of tracking a rapidly expanding universe of 1.3 billion Internet providers just whets the appetite of tech-savvy entrepreneurs. “Internet gaming is a phenomenal industry because it’s expected that every player will cheat if he has the chance,’’ said one vendor.

So who has the hottest product? Quova and GET-SSP earned solid reviews for their presentations. Fontaine, a panelist on the program, said he was most impressed with BioPassword. The Bellevue, Wash., firm’s software unerringly tracked the Station exec’s keyboard style to identify him ”” while shutting out anyone who tried to imitate his typing.

“It’s not intrusive and it’s not expensive,’’ noted Fontaine, who tested the product throughout the day. “I don’t want to do fingerprints or have cameras in my house. This seemed to be the most innovative.’’

That said, BioPassword cannot determine if a player is located in a legal jurisdiction. For that “border control,’’ other products must come into play. As one industry analyst concluded after viewing a day’s worth of exhibits: “There’s no 100 percent sure solution.’’