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The Download: As the government goes mobile, a case for tougher security

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As federal workers use an increasing number of mobile devices around the office, Precise Biometrics is making a case for tougher security — literally.

The Swedish company with an office in Vienna has crafted an iPhone case that allows an owner to prove their identity by slipping an identification card into the back of the case or swiping their finger along a sensor in the front.

Matt Shannon, the vice president for public sector sales, said the gizmo simply extends the authentication technology that the government already uses on desktop computers to the mobile devices.

“The government has made significant investment in time and capital into their existing smart card infrastructure,” Shannon said.

But the market for the cases, called Tactivo, goes beyond federal agencies. Shannon said industries with sensitive data or strict regulations, such as financial services and health care, could also be lucrative customers.

Precise Biometrics aims to sell the devices in bulk directly to the government and other clients, or through a network of distributors who can pair them with phones.

The cases sell for $249 a pop. The company expects to make its first sale of iPhone cases this summer and plans to debut an iPad case later this year.

Dial up

Washington area residents in need of a plumber, florist or tailor will have another means of finding local service businesses when Potomac-based Seva Search officially rolls out its flagship product tomorrow.

Users log onto SevaCall.com to file a request for one of about 45 categories of service businesses available on the Web site, which has been in beta for several months. The company then cold calls a list of area providers and the user is connected with the first three that respond.

The goal is to eliminate the hassle of cracking open the phone book or searching the Web to find a merchant, then calling just to be told they’re not available at your desired time or don’t have the capability to fulfill the request.

Seva Search raised $1.3 million from angel investors last fall. The company operates out of the basement of one of the founders’ parents with a staff that includes six full-time employees, three part-timers and a flock of 17 summer interns.

President and Chief Operating Officer Manpreet Singh said the firm plans to launch SevaCall in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston later this summer.

Summer lightning

Germantown-based Earth Networks appears to be striking hot with new products and partnerships tied to the lightning monitoring system it began unfurling three years ago.

The company will provide “neighborhood-level” weather monitoring for the 160-acre Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds that plays host to some 650,000 visitors a year.

The company’s network will watch the skies for lightning and other weather that could prove dangerous to those playing soccer, football and field hockey on the fields below. The network contains 550 sensors around the globe, including one at the SoccerPlex.

Earth Networks also plans to add lightning warnings to its smartphone application, which operates under the its consumer brand name WeatherBug.

.Internet .Names

Internet Web addresses will become more complex in the next year or so as standard suffixes .com and .net are joined by new top-level domain names, such as .music or .realestate.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers plans to announce Wednesday which companies or organizations have applied to own and operate the new domains. ICANN will then evaluate those applications.

“The ones that will be relevant will be the ones that target a particular community or a particular vertical,” said Alexa Raad, the founder of Leesburg-based Architelos, which provides consulting services to those that plan to manage the domains. Restaurants, for example, might be interested in .dining or .food.

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