Mar.8, 2014

Until about 20 years ago, fingerprints were primarily used by law enforcement agencies to identify criminals. Today fingerprints are being extensively used in civilian and commercial applications.

2D synthetic fingerprint generators output fingerprints using mathematical or statistical models of fingerprint features. Te test the performance of a finger scan system, researchers have to conduct evaluations on the millions of known fingerprint images. But these performance estimates are restricted by the amount of available test data. In addition, the 2D synthetic fingerprint generators are inadequate for testing touchless fingerprint sensing technologies, which has been used more and more as alternatives to the traditional touch based fingerprint capture systems.

To get around the problem, a team of computer scientists from Michigan State University (MSU) led by Anil Jain, an alumnus from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur have developed the world's first 3D-printed fingerprint.

The use of such 3D fingerprints could help both sensor manufacturers and algorithm developers improve the hardware and software of fingerprint matching systems, says Anil Jain. And it could eventually lead to improvements in security.

What Jain, a University Distinguished Professor of computer science and engineering, and his team did was develop a method that takes a two-dimensional image of a fingerprint and maps it to a 3D finger surface.

The 3D finger surface, complete with all the ridges and valleys that make up the human fingerprint, is made using a 3D printer. It creates what Jain's team called a fingerprint "phantom."

2D synthetic image to 3D fingerprint phantom. (a) A sample 2D synthetic fingerprint image (b) generic 3D finger surface; (c) the frontal view, (d) the left profile view and (e) the right profile view of the electronic 3D fingerprint phantom created by mapping (a) onto (b); (f) and (h) the 2D images of the printed 3D fingerprint phantom captured using the 8MP and 16 MP smartphone cameras, respectively; (g) and (i) the enhanced 2D images of (f) and (h).

Imaging phantoms are common in the world of medical imaging. For example, to make sure an MRI machine or a CT scanner is working properly, it needs to first image an object of known dimensions and material properties.

"In health care, a 3D heart or kidney can be created," Jain said. "Because the dimensions are known, they can be put into a scanner and the imaging system can be calibrated."

In this case, the ultimate goal is to have a precise fingerprint model with known properties and features that can be used to calibrate existing technology used to match fingerprints.

"When I have this 3D fingerprint phantom, I know its precise measurements," said Jain. "And because I know the true dimensions of the fingerprint features on this phantom, I can better evaluate fingerprint readers."

While the 3D model doesn't yet have the exact texture or feel of a real finger, it could advance fingerprint sensing and matching technology.

"Tools like this would help improve the overall accuracy of fingerprint-matching systems, which eventually leads to better security in applications ranging from law enforcement to mobile phone unlock," Jain said. For example the iPhone 5s can be unlocked with Touch ID.

Jain has six US patents on fingerprint matching and has written a number of books on biometrics and fingerprint/facial recognition.

Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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Leeeroy Jenkins wrote at 12/15/2014 5:53:35 PM:

Society is fine. Criminals are gonna Crim regardless of technological advances. This should never hold back the advances in tech and science. After all, a crowbar will work just as well on a biometric lock as any other.

Sunpreet Arora wrote at 5/7/2014 5:31:06 PM:

@society is ruined: I've been working on this technology, the aim here is to calibrate fingerprint sensors and comprehensively evaluate fingerprint systems. Fingerprint sensor manufacturers already have methods in place to ensure what is being presented to the system is indeed a live finger, and not a synthetic artifact. In fact, fingerprint systems can be made more robust to such attacks by testing them using these synthetically created 3D artifacts. So, after all society won't be ruined!

society is ruined wrote at 3/12/2014 1:56:17 PM:

This is gold for criminals. They just buy a 3D printer and can frame anyone who is stupid enough to give them their finger print. And that take all the coolness or of the new phones that require you to open your phone with your print.

society is ruined wrote at 3/12/2014 1:54:32 PM:

This is gold for criminals. They just buy a 3D printer and can frame anyone who is stupid enough to give them their finger print. And that take all the coolness or of the new phones that require you to open your phone with your print.

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