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Integrated Biometrics lays out challenge and proposes solution for fingerprinting children


In order to accurately enroll and verify the fingerprints of children, scanners should have a curved surface area to compensate for poor finger positioning and use light-emitting sensor (LES) film technology to simplify finger placement and tolerate conditions such as dirty fingers, according to a new white paper from Integrated Biometics.

Little Finger. Big Challenges.” (PDF) documents the problems associated with fingerprinting young children, such as finger size and physical restlessness, and argues that between relative ease of capture and relatively high social acceptance, fingerprints are the best biometric modality for identifying children. Capturing good quality fingerprint data from children is often difficult due to their fingers being excessively dry or moist, dirty, or the image being distorted by uneven, excessive, or insufficient force by the finger against the scanning surface, IB says.

The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) carried out a research project in 2013 to simulate fingerprint scans for children under optimal conditions, as well as fingers with humidity, sugar residue, and dirt potentially obscuring the image. The project tested a glass optical scanner, a multispectral scanner, and a touchless scanner, and found all three struggled to deliver accurate results, and were inappropriate to many use cases due to some combination of cost, size, and fragility.

The ideal scanner, the paper concludes, delivers high-quality images in a rugged, compact design, with low power consumption and built-in resilience to extreme temperatures, bright lights, and direct sunlight. LES sensors like those from Integrated Biometrics can meet the challenges of fingerprinting children as young as 18 months, the company says.

A team of researchers at the University of California San Diego have developed a device for capturing infant fingerprints, which seems at least very close to meeting the criteria set out by IB, and is being trialed to help eliminate mother to child HIV transmission in Kenya.

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