You have all seen the movie where the bad guys chop off the finger of some important now-dead guy, and use it to get into the place with all the secrets, or all the money… Does that stuff really happen?
Well, whether that is fact or fiction, there are lots of ways that fingerprint sensors can be fooled. The not-so-gruesome way is by creating some kind of plastic or latex finger-like thing. People think that using a fingerprint sensor is a very secure way of protecting information – most recently on the new Apple iPhone 5S – but it really isn’t all that difficult to rip-off a print of your finger.
Heck – you can do a search on “fake fingerprints” in Google and find out how to make fake fingerprints! Like this one on WikiHow: how to fake fingerprints (you actually get 1.5 million results on that search! There is also a video on You Tube – and those are just the first 2 results!
You have probably seen the fingerprint rip-off take place too, again in the movies where someone takes a glass the person has just had a drink from, or anything else that has just been touched. Unless you wear gloves everywhere you go, you are leaving your print on anything you touch!
This leaves building a more secure fingerprint sensor as a great field for more and better technology!
Enter NexID, a company that has created software technology using various algorithms to distinguish between the live finger and the Memorex one. What can the software look at to determine that it is a real finger vs. a fake? Your finger has different qualities that make it act differently than a piece of plastic (or a chopped-off dead one – ick!), such as blood flowing through it that creates a little pulse point and the way it moves and stretches in a particular way as it presses into the sensor.
They say their new solution (they call it testing fingerprint “liveness”) will make a fingerprint scanner 96-98% accurate, and they will be continuing to improve this rate as they make upgrades to their software.
And for you college students out there that haven’t figured out what you want to do as a career when you grow up – maybe consider the up and coming field of biometric spoof mitigation and liveness detection!
You can read more about the NexID solution on VentureBeat.com: