I had a nice chat last week with Tim Russell, CEO of DataKey as well as Chris Schwartzbauer, his VP for business development. DataKey is in the business of supplying hardware tokens, such as smart cards and USB cards, proximity badges and other authentication devices. DataKey operates in some of the same areas as RSA and ActivCard - two companies recently mentioned in this space. ActivCard and RSA are headquartered in the San Francisco Bay area (or, as we who live here like to call it, paradise with a price tag) while DataKey is in Minneapolis, Minn. Minneapolis, that's where you need to put on snowshoes in order to go out to the shed and find your skis! Maybe, though, it's easier to stay at your desk and work when the closest body of salt water is 1,500 miles away. DataKey has been around for almost 30 years (even longer than I've been in the industry, and not many can say that) quietly working away in its security niche. Last year, though, it introduced DataKey Axis, a software and smart card solution that delivers simplified but secure single sign-on in a portable device.Either using a traditional smart card (inserted into a reader) or a USB "key ring" device, a user has immediate access to all of their applications, services and resources without having to remember codes, usernames or passwords. Everything needed is stored on the device.There's no need to always have a pre-configured laptop, or even a palm-top, device with you. Any PC with a USB port can be your entry point to the corporate network and all of the information you have access to. Yet, the device is secured with your own PIN as well as strong encryption of the data.Now DataKey isn't the only one to offer this type of service - ActivCard and RSA have USB devices, for example - but DataKey does seem eager to provide the right tools, as requested by users, rather than simply bulk-up the offering with all sorts of bells and whistles. DataKey Axis may, or may not, be the right "tokenized" authentication product for you but it's certainly worth checking out. And while you're visiting http:\/\/www.datakey.com you should also check out its other products. My favorite is the Smart ID Badge, described as:"A smart card that can be integrated with various building access technologies in order to function as both an employee's physical ID as well as digital ID. The same smart card that is used for network and computer security can be personalized and printed with ID pictures to function as an employee's ID badge, and fitted with a magnetic stripe or RF proximity technology for door access systems. Smart ID badges can be issued using the same technology that issues standard ID badges today; existing badge printers would simply need to be upgraded to accept the smart card chip."That's certainly worth a look for those who already have proximity badge technology installed.