Acuity Systems is unveiling a software platform called TraitWareID that authenticates a person’s identity with the help of a mobile phone.

The Visalia, Calif.-based Acuity Systems started life in 2008 as a video analytics software company in video surveillance. The recession and the collapse of that market forced the company to pivot into identity and access management, using mobile platforms. Heightened fears about mobile hacking and device theft have prompted companies to pay more attention to authenticating employees when they access company information using phones. On top of that, authentication is more important as mobile commerce takes off.

TraitWareID authenticates who a person is with a few questions and then associates that user with a specific mobile device and its digital characteristics. That provides enhanced security as well as a seamless customer experience, making transactions on mobile devices safer. The content that we keep on our phones distinguishes us from other people, so the chances of someone else having the exact same mobile device data is 1 in 360 billion.

The result of this analysis is what Acuity calls an “identity binding token,” which acts like a digital signature, or a proxy for the authenticated user, so that the user does not have to enter passwords every time they do a transaction.

Harlan Hutson, the president and founder of the firm, said “As a husband and father of two girls, I want my family to enjoy their lives without concern about cybercrime and identity theft. Keeping my family safe is a priority, as it should be for every user of great online and mobile technology.”

Hutson said that organizations that serve mobile users still don’t have confidence in the identity of the user when they’re accessing company information.

“Our solution is the only one of its kind to ensure a safe and secure mobile environment,” Hutson said.

Acuity is working with a large university to test TraitWareID to replace plastic cards for identifying students with digital identities on mobile devices. The company wants to make its software work with smartphones, multiple mobile devices, PCs, tablets, and even door locks. Layering on biometric identification, such as fingerprinting, is also part of the deal.

“What I saw was basically all the thin plastic things in my wallet are going to be replaced by my cell phone, and my cell phone is a better authentication tool,” said Adeo Ressi, the CEO of Founder Institute during the Infrastructure Sage Panel. “I buy that vision. The idea that someone could buy a hot tub with my wallet is disturbing.”

Acuity Systems has raised $5 million from angel investors. The company has two employees, not counting contractors and board members.

Acuity Systems is one of 75 companies and 6 student “alpha” startups chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the DEMO Fall 2012 event taking place this week in Silicon Valley. After we make our selections, the chosen companies pay a fee to present. Our coverage of them remains objective.

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