Software publishers and machine manufacturers who look to protect and license their software with hardware keys (dongles) spend a significant amount of resources testing and evaluating the functionality of different solutions before making a decision to buy. While critical, technical functionality is not the only aspect of such solutions that matters – physical design is and should be a key factor in the evaluation.

Design in this case can be grouped into three categories: packaging, materials, and shape.


Organizations around the world spend billions on materials and design resources to make their product packaging look sleek, professional, and inviting. They do this because everyone knows that product packaging is what sets the stage for a customer’s first impression of your organization, and there’s no second chance to make a good first impression.

For software publishers, this is also the first step towards developing the quality perception of your product.

Any vendor who sells a product that contains 3rd party components in the package, such as hardware licensing keys, must acknowledge the impact of these components to the overall impression. Well designed keys can add to the impression of high quality. Keys designed for customizability can be made an integral part of your packaging by using your corporate color for the key casing, and by having your logo engraved or printed on the key’s front surface.



Imagine yourself opening a product box which looks sleek and elegant, and in the box you find a licensing key that looks and feels as if it was made out of the cheapest materials available. Won’t this change your perception about the quality of this product, no matter how fancy the package is?

Your customers typically realize that the licensing key has a lot to do with the reliability of the product they just bought from you. A cheap-looking key asks for trouble, as some customers will develop a perception of a low quality product before even starting the installation; others will expect short durability. Once such a perception is set, any small glitch in your product is likely to make your customers impatient and dissatisfied to a greater extent than justified.

Choosing a licensing key produced from quality materials and certified to withstand the most stressful environments is critical to preserving your brand integrity. In SafeNet, we invest a significant amount of time and effort in selecting materials that not only meet industry standards, but also look great, to increase the quality perception of your product.



With the introduction of Sentinel HASP MaxMicro, we recognized that size matters. The ability to offer a variety of sizes and form factors to meet a broad variety of end-user environments is a key factor to helping you as the software publisher to reach the broadest range of diverse markets and ultimately improving end-user satisfaction. But shape is about much more than just size options.

The shape of a key takes into consideration where the key will be for a majority of its life and how it fits there. It takes into consideration where an end-user may want to keep the key when it is not in use. It takes into consideration other components that you the software publisher or the end user may want to attach to the key, such as a tag with license related information. The key’s shape design then provides the best, least intrusive, and most comfortable solution for all scenarios.

Sentinel HL, SafeNet’s next generation licensing key, was designed to include an easy to use, metal strengthen, key chain hole, enabling to attach the key to end user’s key chain, or to attach an external tag to the key. The size of the keys meets the USB-IF standards, ensuring that the keys can be connected to computers with close USB ports without interrupting to connect other USB devices. In addition, by default most models will come with an integrated cap, which was designed together with the key shape, giving it a sleek look.

As the world’s largest provider of hardware licensing devices, SafeNet hired an award-winning design studio to design its next-generation licensing hardware keys – Sentinel HL. Starting this summer, your products will look better. Much better.