Home access and security are always a concern. Even if security is not a real issue where you live, there is always the feeling of “What if?”. Sometimes the “What if” is about someone getting into your home. Other times, the “What if” is about not being able to get in there yourself. Keys can get lost for a few minutes or a few days, or just be left in the car when your hands are full of bags. So, what if there was a solution that could secure your house or apartment without the need for traditional locks and with the comfort of secure, easy access when you need it?
Austrian company ekey offers several options for home protection, with the bonus of convenient access, by providing fingerprint scanners for door access. Several SEGGER tools help them develop their solutions.
SEGGER products: The perfect fit for ekey’s development needs
Prior to the introduction and adoption of SEGGER’s Embedded Studio, embOS, and emFile, ekey had already been using SEGGER’s well-known debug probe J-Link, which had consistently proven its reliability in various applications. The decision to integrate other SEGGER products was therefore a logical next step. The primary motivation for introducing SEGGER products was ekey’s need for a toolchain and development environment for a new hardware platform. In this context, it was particularly important for ekey that modern C++ support was available for their embedded system.
Developing fingerprint capture units using SEGGER’s Embedded Studio
Building on SEGGER’s proven reliability, ekey embarked on a journey to harness the full potential of SEGGER’s tools, resulting in the seamless integration of SEGGER’s product suite. These tools both met ekey’s stringent requirements and facilitated the development of their fingerprint capture units.
To create the firmware for the fingerprint capture units, ekey uses SEGGER’s Embedded Studio, a leading integrated development environment (IDE) designed for embedded systems. The capture units are responsible for matching fingerprint data, ultimately allowing users to access their doors and gates using ekey Fingerprint. This process uses a recognition algorithm that converts distinctive features such as singular points, minutiae (e.g., ridge endings, bifurcations, etc.), and other specific line characteristics of the fingers into an encrypted numeric code that is then securely stored. To ensure exceptional recognition performance, additional specially developed techniques are applied through the patented ekey algorithm. This algorithm consists of two main components: the Feature Extractor and the Matcher. The first step is to optimize the captured fingerprint images and extract their distinctive features using the Feature Extractor. Subsequently, the Matcher acts as the core recognition engine, facilitating the final identification process.
SEGGER’s Embedded Studio is a comprehensive all-in-one solution for embedded software development with an easy-to-use Visual Studio-like interface. Its accessibility is unmatched, offering free access for non-commercial use, and for those working with licensed partner devices in a commercial context. What sets it apart is its multi-threaded build system that effectively reduces build times and streamlines the development process for embedded applications.
Real-time precision with SEGGER’s embedded operating system embOS
To maintain the precision and real-time performance required for access control, ekey chose SEGGER’s embOS as the operating system for their fingerprint capture units. embOS provides ekey with a robust foundation for their access control solutions. When working with embOS, the developers at ekey are particularly impressed by the fact that it is not only well-thought-out and extremely lean; it also includes everything needed for efficient operation.
SEGGER’s embOS ensures deterministic real-time operation, enabling seamless communication and synchronization between the various system components. This is critical for ekey’s fingerprint capture units, where reliability and responsiveness are key aspects in the development of secure access control systems.
The operating system also offers an impressive array of features that make it a top choice for embedded system development. With a powerful and user-friendly API, it simplifies the development process. This real-time operating system is optimized for high performance while preserving memory resources, ensuring efficiency. Remarkably, embOS achieves zero interrupt latency, a critical advantage in time-sensitive applications.
emFile: Data management made simple and secure
Managing data securely and reliably is especially important when it comes to accessing control solutions, especially when thousands of users trust a company with access data to their homes. The damage caused by the exposure of this data is catastrophic. Therefore, ekey relies on emFile to efficiently manage data storage across a variety of storage devices, ensuring that user data remains secure and inaccessible.
SEGGER’s emFile is a robust file system tailored for embedded devices, offering unparalleled reliability with a fail-safe design that ensures no file system corruption or data loss. It even goes a step further by supporting encryption for embedded file systems, safeguarding sensitive information. emFile’s versatility is demonstrated by its compatibility with a range of storage devices, including NAND, NOR, and SD cards.
ekey’s effortless integration of SEGGER products
ekey’s integration of SEGGER products has been characterized by a smooth and efficient process. One of the key aspects that marked the successful integration was the remarkable compatibility provided by SEGGER’s board support package. ekey’s development team found that the integration of this package seamlessly synchronized with their existing infrastructure, minimizing any compatibility issues that could potentially hinder progress.
Furthermore, the debugging performance of SEGGER’s tools stood out as well. Debugging is a critical aspect of any software development process, and ekey’s development team found SEGGER’s tools to be consistently dependable. This stability allowed for efficient testing and debugging, ensuring the quality and reliability of ekey’s solutions.
Another critical element of the process was the integration of components such as embOS and emFile. Like every other process, this task proved to be straightforward, thanks to SEGGER’s well-documented and user-friendly solutions.
Exceptional support from SEGGER always at hand for ekey
In addition to the technical aspects of the integration, ekey’s experience with SEGGER was greatly enhanced by the exemplary support provided by the SEGGER team. Even when minor issues arose, the SEGGER support team was always available and proved to be instrumental in ekey’s implementation process.
The team was able to provide immediate assistance with the integration of flash chips for ekey’s file system and responded quickly to any challenges that arose within ekey’s development environment. On top of that, toolchain issues were efficiently resolved, ensuring that ekey’s workflow remained seamless.
Christof Kerschbaumer at ekey is extremely pleased with the entire experience: “Our experience with the SEGGER support has been extremely positive, with initial feedback typically arriving within 24 hours, and any issues being efficiently resolved within a week. Working with SEGGER has been great from the start. The project got off the ground quickly, evolved well and is running smoothly. As long as our targets continue to be supported, we have no reason to use any other tools than those from SEGGER.”
This testimonial from a developer’s perspective underscores the significant benefits that ekey derived from utilizing SEGGER tools. The combination of seamless integration and exceptional support from SEGGER has enabled ekey to enhance their product development process, resulting in more efficient development and improved performance.
Conclusion: Unlocking security
In this compelling partnership, SEGGER and ekey have woven a tale of innovation and reliability. The seamless integration of SEGGER’s cutting-edge tools with ekey’s visionary solutions ensures that your home is secure, even when you’re miles away. The solution highlights the power of the technology working behind the scenes, ensuring that the lock on your door remains secure, your access control systems operate flawlessly, and your peace of mind is preserved, knowing that the strength of SEGGER and ekey stands guard, protecting what matters most.
ekey was founded in 2002 and is now Europe’s No. 1 solution for fingerprint scanner access. With its fingerprint scanners for doors, gates, alarm systems, or smart home systems, ekey has a wide variety of products on offer. ekey currently has over 100 employees at its six locations in Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein/Switzerland, Italy, and Slovenia, and exports its products to over 70 countries. Exports account for approximately 80 % of its business. In addition to the European Union, other important sales markets include the United States, India, and China.