Contactless fingerprinting uses telephone cameras to capture prints

For more than For 100 years, human fingerprinting has involved pressing your fingertips to a surface. Initially, this included ink, but has since moved to sensors built into airport scanners and phone screens. The next step in fingerprinting does not involve touching anything at all.

So-called contactless fingerprint technology uses the phone’s camera and image processing algorithms to capture people’s fingerprints. Keep your hand in front of the camera lens and the software can identify and record all lines and swirls at your fingertips. The technology, which has been under development for years, is ready for wider use in the real world. This includes police use, a move that worries civil liberties and privacy groups.

Contactless fingerprinting works with several processes, says Chase Hatcher, vice president of technology at Telos, a fingerprint technology company. “The main component of this is an image processing algorithm that works with the principles of computer vision to transform a fingerprint image into a machine-comparable fingerprint,” says Hatcher.

To collect exactly someone’s fingerprints, a person’s hand must be about five centimeters from the phone’s camera, says Hatcher. From here, the company’s machine learning algorithms identify your fingertips and process the image. The system, Hatcher says, is able to detect the edges that define your fingerprint by identifying shadows and lighter areas. “We need a camera that has autofocus on it,” Hatcher said. It is possible to take fingerprints using the phone’s camera with a resolution of up to two megapixels. The result is a traditional fingerprint image that can then be mapped to existing databases.

Last week, Telos was named the co-winner of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) competition, which consider the performance of contactless fingerprint systems and how they can be used by law enforcement authorities. According to a report from the title of the industry Biometric updatethe results show that the technology is ready for wider dissemination.

Contactless fingerprints are just part of the fast-growing biometrics industry that sells ways to collect and process data created by our bodies. Biometrics may include face recognitionthe way you walk, the patterns of your wrist veins and how do you sound. Among other things, technology is used to change passwords and help prove your identity when opening a new bank account. Biometrics is big business, with some estimates saying the market could be worth it $ 127 billion by 2030.

Despite the increase in biometric technology, this may be controversial. Theft or forgery of fingerprints and other biometric information can lead to fraud and identity theft. Some European lawmakers are pushing for a ban on the use of biometric technology to identify people in public, saying such surveillance technology could be The End of Anonymity.

Shweta Mohandas, a privacy lawyer with the Center for Internet and Nonprofit Society in India, says all new technologies must face confidentiality and harm impact assessments before they can be widely used. “More worrying would be when these technologies are introduced into emerging economies that have neither standards nor sound data protection legislation to protect people from the harm that can occur,” Mohandas said.

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