[IMAGE]12245[/IMAGE]Breakthrough Improves Fingerprint Biometrics Reliability
By Bill Spence
The accuracy and reliability of any fingerprint biometric is dependent on the image quality of the print itself. Reading only the outer fingerprint — the fingerprint that you can visibly see — creates problems for most fingerprint scanning technologies that rely on differences between the ridges and the spaces between them.
Think of a fingerprint as a series of mountains and valleys in which the mountains are the ridges and the valleys are air. Traditional fingerprint technologies need both the ridges and the air to be clean and clear in order to differentiate and read them. If the fingers are dry, the ridges break down and nothing shows in the image. If the fingers are wet or dirty, water or other impurities fill up the valleys.
With the elderly, the ridges break down and all that is imaged is a blob. High ambient light erases any images whatsoever. So, bottom line, attempting to read the outer fingerprint alone doesn’t work. That’s why traditional fingerprint technologies present such a high number of false rejects, slowing throughput and driving most integrators crazy.
As one integrator said recently, “Biometrics is less than 1 percent of my revenue stream but is involved in 10 percent of my service calls. You want me to sell more biometrics?”
Until recently, he’s been correct. By attempting to read only the outer fingerprint, only 80 to 90 percent of users are able to get a good read on the first try. One or two users out of 10 are left standing by the reader. If there are only 50 people involved, that can be managed. When trying to get hundreds into a factory, thousands into an amusement park or tens of thousands daily across an international border, that fingerprint “solution” simply doesn’t cut it.
The solution here is multispectral imaging. Multispectral imaging uses multiple wavelengths of light to capture an image of both a person’s external fingerprint and their identical internal fingerprint, the foundational capillary bed. Even if the external print is damaged or obscured, multispectral fingerprinting uses the internal print data to ensure clear, clean images of anyone in any environment.
High-quality images are captured by multispectral sensors even when fingerprint ridges are hard to distinguish due to genetics, age, dirt, finger placement, wetness, dryness and other environmental conditions. With multispectral imaging, the 2 to 5 percent of people with “problem fingerprints” that fail to enroll on readers with traditional technologies can enroll as easily as a young graduate student working in a clean room.
Today, finally, a fingerprint technology can lower the overall lifetime costs of system ownership by reducing management oversight, workarounds, frustrated users and, yes, continued service calls by the integrator. Authorized users get in on the first try. They can now count on their fingerprint reader doing what they wanted it to do.
Bill Spence is Vice President, Transaction Services, for Albuquerque, N.M.-based biometrics provider Lumidigm.
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