Fingerprints effective for identification from six-months of age

Fingerprints can be used to effectively verify the identity of children enrolled as young as six months of age, according to study results announced by Anil Jain, professor of computer science at Michigan State University during the final day of ID4Africa 2017.

“Children can be recognized with 99 percent accuracy when age at first enrollment is above six months,” Jain told hundreds of conference delegates.

Jain’s team tested the fingerprints of over 160 children for the study, having recognized the developmental changes which render other biometrics like facial recognition impractical or impossible to use for verification of infant and toddler identities. Subjects were tested four times at 3-month intervals with both 500 and high-definition 1270 ppi sensors.

Jain noted the importance of operator skill to the quality of data, but also noted that the physical characteristics of fingerprints form at approximately 12 weeks of gestation.

The critical need for early childhood identification was frequently expressed during the forum, both by speakers and attendees from African governments, and outside of official ID4Africa events. Biometric Update was present for several conversations between stakeholders about challenges related to early childhood identification and its need for delivery of health services.

The findings also suggest a possible application for identifying victims of child abduction, as well as the strengthening of unified “birth-to-death” identification.

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