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"I think we could solve our problems more easily through strength of character; but that's always been a commodity in extremely short supply."
- Gregory Benford

Palm Lock  
  A lock or seal which can be opened only by contact with the palm of the human hand to which it has been keyed.  

This is another wonderful creation of Herbert's. It is not clear if the lock is part of the knob or device that opens the door, or is just a lock.

Jessica put a hand on the rail, began to climb. The rail felt cold under her sliding palm. She stopped at the door, saw it had no handle, but there was a faint depression on the surface of it where a handle should have been.

Surely not a palm lock, she told herself. A palm lock must be keyed to one individual's hand shape and palm lines. But it looked like a palm lock. And there were ways to open any palm lock--as she had learned at school.

Jessica glanced back to make certain she was unobserved, placed her palm against the depression in the door. The most gentle of pressures to distort the lines--a turn of the wrist, another turn, a sliding twist of the palm across the surface.

She felt the click.

From Dune, by Frank Herbert.
Published by Putnam in 1965
Additional resources -

Fingerprints are held to be unique; I wonder if a human palm offers more points for comparison, and is therefore more secure?

The need for greater data security has led to the use of a variety of biometric identification system. Recently, a device as small and inexpensive as a Pocket PC was made available with a reliable fingerprint scanner.

Significant work has been done in the last few years on palmprint identification. Some potential advantages may exist; the hand geometry and major palm creases can be captured using a lower resolution device. The device in Dune seems to rely only on the print.

It turns out that Herbert's palm lock is not the earliest reference in science fiction to this kind of biometric identification system; see the palm plate from The Mechanical Monarch, a 1958 novel by E.C. Tubb.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Dune
  More Ideas and Technology by Frank Herbert
  Tech news articles related to Dune
  Tech news articles related to works by Frank Herbert

Palm Lock-related news articles:
  - Biometric HandReader - Frank Herbert's Palm Lock?
  - Biometric Deadbolt Lock Like A Palm Lock
  - Fujitsu PalmSecure Hand Vein Scanner

Articles related to Security
Flimmer Navy Drone Flies And Swims
Indian Court Says Brain Scan Proves Murder
Background Draw-a-Secret (BDAS) Makes Graphical Passwords
ID-U Biometrics Eye Tracking Signature

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