October 9, 2007 Current technology is limited and time consuming in correctly identifying people from partial, distorted, scratched, smudged, or otherwise warped fingerprints. Researchers at the University of Warwick in the UK have now devised a way of recognizing these types of prints in just a few seconds.
The new technology has allowed the researchers to “unwarp” dodgy fingerprints using a standard topological pattern co-ordinate system. Any finger print that has been distorted by smudging, uneven pressure, or other distortion can be transformed into a clear digital representation of the fingerprint. The print can then be mapped on to an "image space" of all other finger prints held on a database.
The unwarping of prints is so effective that for first time, researchers say users will be able to compare the position of individual sweat pores on a fingerprint. This has not previously been possible as the hundreds of pores on an individual finger are so densely packed that the slightest distortion prevented analysts from using them to differentiate finger prints.
The advantage of this technology over current offerings is the fact that it can deliver these results almost instantly. Whether the database being cross referenced has a thousand or a million fingerprints in it, the result comes back in seconds. The system achieves this by overlaying new images onto the virtual image space instead of laboriously comparing a print against each entry in a database.
The University of Warwick researchers have set up a spin out company "Warwick Warp" to take the technology to market. The researchers are exploring a number of commercial opportunities including access control systems, financial transaction authorization systems and possibly even ID cards passports or border control systems.
The news of this breakthrough comes just months after a new fingerprinting technique was announced that could reveal more than just identity including diet, race and sex of a suspected criminal.
The significance of such advancements in fingerprint technology will resonate not only in the world of crime fighting but also in more general applications of biometric security, which is now becoming a prevalent tool in both commercial and private arenas.