Breaking into an online bank account can be done fairly easily with keystrokes of pass codes tracked through a security loophole in computer systems. Steven Delcarson, chief executive of L.A.-based Innovative Card Technologies, found that out first hand.


Delcarson's bank account was robbed 37 times over two days recently. The bank gave him his money back, but the experience has made him a personal advocate of his company's technology.


It's called an ICT DisplayCard security device for e-banking, e-commerce and data access. The card is wallet-sized and resembles a credit card. It contains an operating system similar to a little computer with a chip and battery, Delcarson said. Press the back of the card and the pass code, at the top of the plastic card, changes.


The technology is similar to the "tokens" handed out by banks to high-end clients. It's a small electronic device with a window that shows a numbering sequence or a pass code that changes after every transaction.


Last week, Bank of America began distributing ICT DisplayCards to customers to authenticate online transactions.


Innovation Card Technologies was founded in 1993 and employs 20 people. It currently deals mostly with security companies such as Verisign, ActivIdentity and Cryptolog. It first tested the item through Meritz Securities in South Korea earlier this year.


Now Hear This

When Val Kolton went searching for high-quality earphones for his iPod a few years ago, he couldn't find any that suited his style.


Most professional-grade earphones that offer noise isolation and a unique range of clarity also make you look like "you're about to dissect a rat when you put it on," said Kolton, founder and chief executive of Hollywood-based V-Moda, which manufactures music-related lifestyle products.


"The high-end brands like Etymonic are for recording professionals or studio users. They are plastic and look like medical equipment," Kolton said.


So he designed earphones made of metal, 24-karat gold and fabric. They also come with a tiny microphone so compact that it looks like a volume controller on the cable.


He got Apple on board and manufactured the earphone-microphone set called Vibe Duo. It's compatible with iPhone, iPod, and any device that plays mp3s, CDs, and DVDs.


Vibe Duo retails at $99.99 and is sold at about 10,000 stores in 40 countries.


"Nowadays, with the popularity of iPhones and iPods, people want high-quality sound while jogging or on-the-go," Kolton said.


The product is a result of months of tweaking alongside Apple designers. It now includes a black leather pouch, not the gold one that was in the original design. (Too "bling, bling," Kolton said.)


The clarity in the sound comes from using professional-grade dynamic drivers that allows for a natural, warm sound. The technology behind the tiny microphone that hangs around the neck area was honed through literal road tests, where engineers drove around talking on the mouthpiece with car windows rolled down, Kolton said.


V-Moda's patented technology allows the headsets to plug into a cell phone or an mp3 player. It doesn't require an adapter.


Kolton started building his company in 2004 but didn't launch VibeDuo, his first product, until last year when he pitched the product to Apple through a company that manufactures cases for iPhones and iPods.


V-Moda, which is in the process of opening a design and marketing office in Milan, has 14 employees and is privately funded.


Webless Web designer

Clive Hoffman Associates Inc., a 42-year-old public relations company in Beverly Hills, has in recent years led Web campaigns for clients. But the company lacked a Web site of its own. It was a case of a shoemaker who didn't have any shoes, said Jill Hoffman, company vice president.


Last week the company unveiled Clivehoffmanassociates.com.


"A PR business is about talking about others, not about yourself," Clive Hoffman said.


Most recently, Clive Hoffman Associates led the efforts of Web site design, production of content and analysis of target audiences for real estate marketing company Kirshner Group and real estate firm Kennedy Wilson, among others.


Bernthis.com

Hollywood resident Jessica Bern, who recently launched her own comedy series on Bernthis.com, keeps it running by including product placements of local businesses in her episodes.


In most recent ones, it was a dry cleaner and a shoe store.


"Newspaper and radio are just not that effective for these small businesses looking to connect with local clients," said Bern, a stand-up comedian and commercial actress. Since Bern is Hollywood-based, most of the traffic on the site is local, she added.


Staff reporter Booyeon Lee can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 230, or at blee@labusinessjournal.com .

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