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MSU researchers creating fake fingers to test fingerprint recognition systems


Michigan State University biometrics expert Anil Jain and his team are developing a fake finger that possesses multiple key properties of human skin to determine how secure biometric recognition systems are, according to a report by MSU Today.

Jain, a University Distinguished Professor, and doctoral student Joshua Engelsma have used the fake finger to test two of the most common types of fingerprint readers to help determine their resilience to spoof attacks.

The team created the fake fingers using a combination of carefully selected materials, such as conductive silicone, silicone thinner and pigments.

The researchers designed and implemented the entire fabrication process which applied a molding and casting technique.

“What makes our design unique is that it mimics a real finger by incorporating basic properties of human skin,” said Jain. “This new spoof has the proper mechanical, optical and electrical properties of a human finger. Compared to current fake fingers that only contain one or two of these properties, our new version could prove much more challenging to detect. It will help motivate designers to build better fingerprint readers and develop robust spoof-detection algorithms.”

The proliferation of fingerprint authentication technology in smartphones, computers, banks, airports, law enforcement and more, makes it more important than ever to develop more resilient fingerprint readers.

The fake fingers will be used in a range of applications, namely to test the recognition accuracy between different types of fingerprint readers.

The readers differ based on the type of sensors used to record the digital fingerprints, including optical, which use light rays to capture an image, or capacitive, which use electrical current to generate an image.

Fingerprint recognition accuracy decreases when the same fingerprint captured using two different types of fingerprint readers is compared.

Developers of fingerprint readers could potentially use MSU’s new spoof to develop methods in an effort to improve the accuracy.

“Given their unique characteristics, we believe our fake fingers will be valuable to the fingerprint recognition community,” said Jain. “Consumers need to know their fingerprints and identity are secure, and vendors and designers need to demonstrate to the consumers the technology is not only accurate but also resilient to spoof attacks.”

Jain and his team have already begun the next phase of the research, which involves designing and creating a fingerprint reader to test spoof-detection capabilities.

Once the researchers perfect the process, the cost-effective fingerprint reader could be easily built in a couple of hours by other fingerprint recognition developers to test which fingerprints are real and which are fake.

In addition, Jain’s lab is developing algorithms that will make the cost-effective fingerprint reader more resilient to spoof presentation attacks.

Earlier this year, Jain was elected a Foreign Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE).

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