Multi-finger authentication: The next phase in smartphone identity recognition

November 6, 2015 - 

This is a guest post by Francis Mather, Director of Computer Vision at Hoyos Labs.

In today’s increasingly digital and mobile age, most of us are attached to our smartphones. We use them throughout the day to check bank accounts, social media sites and email, as well as shop.

The majority of these activities require entering a username and password. For many of us, it’s a hassle to remember the myriad of usernames and passwords for these sites, so we reuse them; in fact, studies have found that one in five people use the same password for everything. However, it’s simply not a good way to secure your data, so many companies are exploring the use of biometrics instead of passwords. It’s proving to be a far more effective way to authenticate users based on their unique features.

When it comes to fingerprint biometrics, single-finger identification systems are available on mobile devices like Apple and Samsung smartphones. And while these companies have effectively integrated a single-print hardware-based scanner into these phones, there are still two key drawbacks of not only this system but all individual forms of biometrics: reliability and security.

The iPhone 5S’s Touch ID fingerprint technology, for example, was hacked less than 48 hours after its release, and according to a recent poll, 40 percent of users found that single-finger ID systems do not always work reliably. What’s more is that articles showing how the system can be hacked further demonstrate that this tech is far from ideal for important transactions.

Additionally, facial recognition technology may not allow users to consistently get a quick and accurate ID match due to adverse lighting conditions, and authenticating identity via voice biometrics can also be difficult in a noisy environment. So, given all of these shortcomings, what’s the best solution on the market?

To solve these issues, a team of scientists at Hoyos Labs has developed a new, proprietary technology called 4F ID that is capable of collecting four fingerprints in a matter of seconds using only a person’s smartphone. 4F ID uses the phone’s rear camera and LED flashlight – thus, combatting lighting issues – to capture four fingerprints and ridges on the fingers at the same time with a far higher degree of reliability than most technology that’s currently on the market.

hoyos-4F-ID

Hoyos Labs 4F ID

Whereas touch ID determines the user’s identity based on a small fragment of a fingerprint, 4F ID uses a much larger region of all four prints, leading to much higher security. In fact, by scanning both hands, the system is accurate enough to biometrically distinguish one person from the entire world population and is compatible with legacy fingerprint databases like those that are held by the police. This is the first time that this level of reliability has been achieved using only standard smartphone hardware, and as a result, it’s much more difficult to spoof or hack this system.

The implications for both consumers and enterprises are huge. For consumers, this kind of technology could replace the password system altogether. For businesses, it could provide a simple alternative to the cumbersome and fallible use of utility bills, bank statements and passports for proving identity. The critical pieces of the new password-free biometric era are now ready to roll out, and the only thing that you’ll need to log into all of your favorite websites is your smartphone and unique biometric features. What could be easier – and more secure?

DISCLAIMER: BiometricUpdate.com Brand Focus articles are submitted content. The views expressed in this article are that of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BiometricUpdate.com.

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About Francis Mather

Dr. Francis Mather has more than 15 years experience in research and technology management. He is formerly the principal researcher of Sharp Corporation’s European lab. He pioneered the world’s first dual-view display now used by Toyota and Jaguar Land Rover. His accomplishments include Sharp’s “Researcher of the Year” award and finalist of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s most prestigious engineering award for exploiting mobile 3-D technology. Dr. Mather was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Physics in 2014.