Wednesday, November 30, 2016

New advance in fingerprinting: contactless fingerprint technology

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has developed a device for contactless fingerprinting. The technology uses optical coherence tomography (OCT).  Think of OCT as an optical ultrasound, using light to capture the biometric image of a fingerprint. 

OCT captures subsurface as well as surface information, scanning a fingerprint internally as well as externally. These hybrid images are higher in resolution and capture more detail. This technology will make it easier to detect fake prints. 

At a crime scene, an OCT device will capture more information on live and latent fingerprints (seen and unseen prints). OCT scanning doesn’t destroy DNA evidence. It doesn’t require dusting, therefore it won't contamination the crime scene. Other interesting benefits, it can detect sweat glands, and also whether the subject is dead or alive.

Acquiring fingerprints without touch is more accurate in that the process doesn’t distort prints, as happens with the slight finger pressure used in traditional fingerprint scanning. OCT fingerprinting is more tamper-proof, more hygienic, and doesn’t leave fingerprint residue behind on a scanner surface.

OCT is currently used in the medical fields of ophthalmology and dermatology. Now with contactless fingerprinting, it will help advance the fields of law enforcement and forensics.

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research develops contactless fingerprinting device

Justin Lee for, September 22, 2016

CSIR develops hi-tech contactless fingerprint device

Staff Writer, ITWeb, Johannesburg, 21 Sep 2016 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing this Thanksgiving finds you with many reasons to be thankful. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Imagine classic “Whodunits” without fingerprints…

They wouldn’t be quite the same, would they? This reader has just finished a period mystery set in 1907 New York, “A Deadly Affection” by Cuyler Overholt, in which fingerprints played a role in narrowing the suspect pool. In this case, the fingerprints were not a match and the protagonist went on to use psychology to help identify the killer.

In the late 1800’s, identifying the owner of bloody fingerprints left at the crime scene solved a murder in Mark Twain’s “Life on the Mississippi.” In the early 1900’s, Arthur Conan Doyle’s keen detective Sherlock Holmes used fingerprints, as well as interesting found evidence such as footprints and cigarette ashes to positively identify killers.

Fingerprints have also be used to implicate the wrong person, as in Patricia Wentworth’s 1959 novel “The Fingerprint.” A young woman touches the gun when she happens upon a crime scene, almost getting herself convicted for a crime she didn’t commit.  A similar twist is featured in a modern classic, Stieg Larsson’s 2006 novel “The Girl Who Played With Fire.” In this case a gun that was touched by Lizbeth is then used to murder a couple, implicating her in two murders.

Readers will enjoy the article linked below which takes a look at how fingerprints have inspired writers, from 19th century novels where fingerprints were just beginning to be used in crime solving, to modern classics. You may be inspired to think of other favorite books in which fingerprints were key in moving the plot along.

Whodunit? How fingerprinting has inspired writers

Books section,, August 31, 2016

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Biometric Security 101

Photo of tablet user fingerprint authentication

In a world that is going paperless, more advanced security measures were needed and have been developed in response to threats of cyber hacking, organized crime and terrorism. Biometrics, everything from fingerprints, facial structure, iris scans, voice analysis and DNA have provided the basis for a secure and convenient way of authenticating identity.

Biometrics is a rapidly growing industry, but not a new science. By the late 1800s, the study of fingerprint had advanced to their use in identifying people; the origin of iris scans dates back to 1936. Starting in the late 1980’s, major advances took place in biometric technology that accelerated the growth of the security and surveillance industries. Faster computers and algorithms helped make it all possible.

Today, biometrics – fingerprints, voice, iris scans and facial analysis – are used to authenticate mobile devices, in retail and banking transactions, for security in airports, and in border control. The global biometrics market in the U.S. is expected to exceed $24.8 billion by 2021. Still biometric authentication is used more extensively in Europe and other countries than in the U.S., for example, being used to authenticate voters and the recipients of social service programs. 

Americans want security, but they also have strong feelings about privacy. While biometrics is ever advancing, and its use in authentication and security growing, cards and paper identification are still expected to be in use for many years to come.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Will biometrics be the answer to preventing voter fraud in the U.S.?

U.S. voting graphic

A U.S. company, Integrated Biometrics, has been providing portable fingerprint scanners for use in Brazil to help register and verify voters. Much of Brazil is agricultural. With mobile fingerprint scanning technology, farming families who would have trouble traveling to cities to vote can be enabled through outreach to cast their vote. 

Biometric authentication for voting has been in use for years in Europe. Apple brought biometric authentication into the mainstream in U.S. with Touch ID for the iPhone. Fingerprint authentication is now routinely used in the U.S. for accessing smart phones and mobile devices, for convenient payment transactions, for admittance to secure areas, and for express check-in at airports or events.

It seems only a matter of time before biometrics is used to verify voters in the U.S., at least partially, but there resistance to the idea of a digital identity registered with the government. Many feel it is invasive or a threat to privacy to share their biometrics, preferring to use a paper ID or passport.

Still, it would make voting easier: for people who don’t drive or have passports, for rural or low income areas, for the elderly and those in poor health, to name a few. It would certainly cut down on the number of deceased voters. And using biometrics to enable social service would help prevent social security and tax fraud. 

Introducing biometrics in the U.S. voting process: Q&A with Dave Gerulski

Justin Lee, Biometric Update, October 16, 2016, an interview with Dave Gerulski of Integrated Biometrics