A library near Tokyo is set to become the first in Japan to employ palm-vein biometrics as a substitute for conventional library cards, system vendor Fujitsu said last week.

The company's palm-vein security system will be used in a new library that is due to open in Naka City, Ibaraki prefecture, in October 2006. Fujitsu's palm-vein system shines an infrared light on the user's hand and records the vein pattern with a camera. It relies on the unique pattern of veins inside each person's hand to identify users.

The system offers a higher level of security than biometric technologies include voice print, facial recognition, fingerprint recognition and iris scan, according to Fujitsu.

It has already been adopted by several Japanese banks as a biometric replacement to four-digit PINs for ATM (automatic teller machine) transactions. Among these is The Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi, which is Japan's third-largest retail bank and has been installing the system on its ATMs since October 2004.

Citizens using the new library will have the choice of palm-vein authentication or a smart-card to use library services and check-out books and other materials, said Fujitsu.