Working from a home office, I’m out of touch with things in terms of photocopy machine abuse. Apparently it goes on quite a bit in Japan (and in all offices I suspect) where staff copy their own material for personal use such as a local garage sale, or missing dog. In larger offices the expense adds up which is why Canon have now introduced multi-function printers that require fingerprint authentication. Previous security attempts included key cards or pin numbers which could be easily passed around. By using a fingerprint method an actual user has to be present at the machine to activate it and can then be more easily held to account.
The new system is developed by Hitachi and has been attached to new multi-function printers that can run MEAP (a J2ME development platform) allowing it to integrate more easily in to an office setup.
The printers themselves are coming out in a couple of days on July 8 and will start at just short of $1500. There is no information on the availability out of Japan at the moment.