Nov 14, 2016 | By Benedict

Researchers from Michigan State University have developed a technique for 3D printing gloves that can successfully dupe a range of fingerprint scanners. Each glove is made from proprietary materials that can mimic real skin, including the exact texture of a fingerprint.

It’s no secret that the 3D printing community has attracted a certain degree of notoriety in recent years through media portrayals of 3D printed weapons, 3D printed skeleton keys, and other controversial uses of the technology. You can now add 3D printed fingerprints to that arsenal of dubious additive manufactured possessions, because researchers at MSU have found a way to create 3D printed gloves that successfully mimic the shape and texture of human fingertips—enough to fool even a high-quality fingerprint scanner.

Of course, the MSU researchers carrying out this groundbreaking research aren’t trying to steal data from your smartphone—they’re simply trying to find new ways to accurately test fingerprint scanners. Where many tests carried out on such scanners use 2D images of fingerprints, 3D fingerprints—real or otherwise—better represent actual human finger placement and pressure and are consequently of greater value during the testing process.

When testing fingerprint scanning technology, it is of course possible to use actual human fingertips, but this often requires using the same finger across a whole testing period—something that is often difficult to organize, especially when working in large groups. Another option, therefore, is the use of non-human, 3D replicas of fingertips. A 3D printed glove developed by the MSU researchers plays is the latest device to play that role, and has yielded repeatable, consistent tests across a number of scanners.

The special fingerprint glove is 3D printed using proprietary materials that can mimic human skin, right down to the texture and geometry of fingerprints. With an extremely accurate 3D printer, the researchers were able to precisely replicate the ridges of fingerprints, with these ridges “splaying out” upon pressure with the sensor, just like with real skin.

Advances in fingerprint replication have their downsides as well as their upsides, and the MSU researchers have fully acknowledged that their 3D printed glove could—if it ended up on the wrong hand—be used for criminal purposes. Reassuringly however, the technology remains out of reach for most petty thieves, because while the 3D printed glove worked well when printed on a $250,000 Stratasys Objet350 Connex 3D printer, researchers found that attempting the same print on a $1,000 printer was unsuccessful, with the fingerprint scanners failing to recognize the cheaper glove as a “finger” at all.

While the 3D printed fingerprint glove developed by the MSU researchers has not been developed to accelerate anti-fraud technologies that can learn to differentiate between human fingertips and replicas, the team believes that it could contribute to this field in the future. Helpfully, the researchers have also shared their findings with other scientists working on such “anti-spoofing” technology.

Naturally, the MSU team doesn’t want fraudsters to be able to 3D print replicas of real human fingers, but it does hope to share a version of its 3D printed glove—perhaps one that doesn’t mimic the fingerprints of any actual human—with other people trying to test fingerprint scanners. To do this, the researchers are planning to make a mold for the glove with which other researchers could quickly make duplicates using only silicone and other cheap materials.

Overall, the MSU researchers believe that the 3D printed glove is a valuable contribution to security research. “We are very pleased with this research and how it is showing the uncertainties in the process and what it can mean for the accuracy of the readers,” said Nicholas Paulter, Group Leader for the Security Technologies Group at NIST and co-author on the study.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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I.AM.Magic wrote at 11/15/2016 10:16:59 AM:

yet another nail in the coffin in biometrics, hope they'll stop soon that none-sense.

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