Bennett Griffin, president and CEO of Lawrence-based Griffin Technologies, believes he has a new computer gadget that offers parents something they've only dreamed about Â the upper hand.
Griffin is touting his company's new computer security device, called SecuriKey Personal Edition, as a simple way for parents to keep children away from home computers they shouldn't be using.
The product, launched earlier this month, is a keylike device with a computer chip embedded. It is designed to plug into a computer's USB port. After SecuriKey software is installed on the computer, the machine can't be used unless the key is plugged in.
Griffin said that means parents can control how long their children surf the Internet, play computer games or do anything else on a computer Â as long as they keep a close eye on the key.
"We think parents can use this as a real take-back-control type of device," Griffin said at his company's offices at 619 Mass.
The product is better than other access-blocking programs, he said, because children often have a better understanding than parents of how such programs work.
"But this is a pretty simple concept," he said. "People have been using keys for a millennium. The learning curve isn't very steep."
The product uses technology the company developed in 1999 and has been selling to business customers since last fall.
For the new consumer version, the company changed the technology to make it easier to install and to work with one computer instead of a network of computers. The personal version also is much less expensive than the professional version. It sells for $149, compared with about $790 for the business version.
Griffin said the new product may be the key to growing his business. Since its release earlier this month, the device has been mentioned in a cover story in PC Magazine. Griffin doesn't release revenue figures for his privately held company, but he said sales of the product would more than double his firm's revenues.
"We're excited about it because it is our first foray into the consumer market," Griffin said. "It gives us the potential to tap into a very large market that we previously haven't tapped into."
He knows he won't sell to every owner of a personal computer, "But when you're talking about numbers that large, even getting a small piece of that pie still leaves you with a very big piece of pie."
Griffin Technologies is the first company to bring such a system like this to market. Currently, the product can be purchased only over the Internet, at www
.securikey.com. Griffin is negotiating with several retailers he wouldn't disclose to begin selling the product in stores nationwide.
In addition to parents, Griffin said the product could become popular with business people who take laptop computers on the road.
Many times thieves are stealing the computers more for the information on their hard drives than the machine itself, Griffin said. Thieves often use the information on the computer to access financial records, steal a company's proprietary information or gain information to hack into a company's larger computer network.
Griffin said he thought his company's product would offer those users extra peace of mind at a time when many are looking to increase security in all parts of their lives.
"Security in general has become a very top-of-mind topic," Griffin said. "We feel like people are really looking for a solution."