This innovative fingerprint scanner can discern fake fingerprints from real ones

Beware evil villains and career crooks! Scientists from the Langevin Institute in Paris have just developed a revolutionary fingerprint scanner capable of discerning fake fingerprints from real ones. Whereas typical fingerprint scanners are fairly simple to fool, the new tech scraps the traditional process of photo scanning in favor of a method that actually looks inside a person’s finger. Time to throw out all that Play-Doh you had reserved for shady fingerprint forgery.

The innovative new scanner quickly and accurately captures what the team calls a person’s “internal fingerprint.” Like the prints on the surface of a finger, an internal fingerprint has a unique set of topographical features (they match the external one, in fact), yet it resides roughly a half millimeter below the skin. Moreover, the Langevin system boasts the capability to image the sweat pores in a person’s finger, further enhancing its means of identifying someone.

Engineered by Langevin Institute postdoctoral researcher Egidijus Auksorius and scientific instrument professor Claude Boccara, the internal sensor is based on full-field optical coherence tomography,  or FF-OCT. Unlike standard optical coherence tomography, which makes use of 3D data and lasers, FF-OCT relies on a 2D detector, making it easier and faster to use (not to mention, cheaper). Basically, images of an internal fingerprint can be captured in under a second using this tech, which is an absolute boon for the fingerprint scanning industry.

When in use, the scanner analyzes the various interference patterns produced after a beam of light reflects off a sample (i.e. a finger) against a reference beam of light. For instance, once a light beamed at a finger registers with the system, the scanner can see the different grooves, patterns, and pores associated with it. The reference beam of light — just a pure beam — allows the scientists to accurately read the differences and chart the grooves and patterns.

A recent study conducted by the Department of Homeland Security found that wearing fake prints, or “spoofing” a fingerprint sensor, beats a scanner roughly 80 percent of the time. Considering this is a staggering percentage in any capacity, Boccara and Auksorius’ collaboration with BitFlow appears poised to be a forensics expert’s best friend.


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