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Security Technology

3-D Light System May Revolutionize Fingerprinting 71

Posted by kdawson
from the 256-times-10 dept.
coondoggie writes "The US Department of Homeland Security's Science & Technology Directorate recently awarded almost $420,000 to a Kentucky company to further develop a contactless finger print/biometric system. The goal is a machine that can snap 10 fingerprints in high resolution in less than 10 seconds, without human intervention. This goal is beginning to look feasible. FlashScan3D is working with the University of Kentucky's Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments, and has developed a technique called 'structured light illumination' (WIPO patent description), where a pattern of dots or stripes is projected onto a curved or irregular surface."
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3-D Light System May Revolutionize Fingerprinting

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  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Saturday March 14, 2009 @02:32PM (#27194251)

    Like RFID-loaded passports and cameras at sports arenas, this technology only seems useful at violating our privacy remotely.

    We are talking about Chinese Democracy a few stories below. What scares me more than Chinese Democracy (and Axl's hairplugs) is American Fascism.

    • I don't see any mention of taking prints remotely. This just appears to be a faster, more accurate, and less messy way to take prints than the traditional ink system.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by shadowturtle (960092)
        Ink? Do they even use that anymore? When I was fingerprinted (for work) they used a scanner.
        • Indeed, they stopped using ink about 10 years ago (even here in Australia). You might find smaller out of the way police stations in outback towns with paper & ink, but not in big cities.

          This is most definitely for gathering prints without the subject realising.

          • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Saturday March 14, 2009 @07:03PM (#27196263)

            Or airport fingerprint scanning. Using 10 fingers, rather than just one, should help make the "Gummie finger" forgery technique somewhat more difficult. (Previously discussed on Slashdot, and in articles such as http://news.cnet.com/2100-1001-915580.html [cnet.com]) Basically, fingerprint scanners are _all_ easily misled by fingertips made of gelatin with the fake print overlaid on them. The necessary tools are vaguely decent copies of the victim's fingerprint, such as those from police files, a printer, a bowl of gelatin, and some skill with a knife.

            But fingerprint forgery turns out not to be that difficult, especially against automated systems that have to auto-correlate such semi-random shapes.

  • Oh, boy! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Samschnooks (1415697) on Saturday March 14, 2009 @02:36PM (#27194287)

    The US Department of Homeland Security's Science & Technology Directorate...

    Stop right there. Already, I don't like it!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The goal is a machine that can snap 10 fingerprints in high resolution in less than 10 seconds, without human intervention.

      Interesting summary. If there is no human intervention, whose fingerprints are snapped?

      • by HTH NE1 (675604)

        Interesting summary. If there is no human intervention, whose fingerprints are snapped?

        Everyone's.

  • Great! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Halo1 (136547) <<eb.tnegu.sile> <ta> <ebeam.sanoj>> on Saturday March 14, 2009 @02:36PM (#27194295) Homepage

    We may be turning the West into a collection of police states, but at least they'll be time-efficient police states.

    Who'd have though it would ever be considered a problem if it took more than 10 seconds to take 10 finger prints...

    • Re:Great! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by russotto (537200) on Saturday March 14, 2009 @02:45PM (#27194385) Journal

      Who'd have though it would ever be considered a problem if it took more than 10 seconds to take 10 finger prints...

      Think border control and the DHS's "tourists are terrorists" programs (not the official name, of course).

      • Re:Great! (Score:4, Funny)

        by Halo1 (136547) <<eb.tnegu.sile> <ta> <ebeam.sanoj>> on Saturday March 14, 2009 @02:53PM (#27194451) Homepage

        Yes, that's what my "police state" comment was referring to. Of course, why stop there? They might catch even more terrorists if they take more fingerprints.

        Fingerprinting for Freedom! Did you already give a fingerprint today? Your fingerprint too could belong to a terrorist, so get fingerprinted now! Never forget: fingerprint early, and fingerprint often!

        • "If we have your fingerprint on file then we can be rule you out! After all, if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about!"

          Never mind when the fingerprint database is hacked, or lost, or sold for advertising, or shared with another state...
      • Think border control and the DHS's "tourists are terrorists" programs (not the official name, of course).

        Damn, that is perfect. Did you think of that up on your own?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by value_added (719364)

      We may be turning the West into a collection of police states, but at least they'll be time-efficient police states.

      On the other hand, fingerprint analysis [wikipedia.org] will probably remain a slow, laborious and error-prone process.

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      Who'd have thought you'd want to fingerprint every tourist entering getting off a plane.

    • they'll improve the technology up to blink scanning, like drive thru ez-pass.

      any public place will be subject to pass-by scanners

      and paying merchants cash to avoid deep data mining won't work anymore-

      wearing gloves will get you searched.

    • Re:Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by StarkRG (888216) <`starkrg' `at' `gmail.com'> on Saturday March 14, 2009 @06:24PM (#27195959)

      It takes about two seconds per finger. So, assuming they want all ten fingers it takes 20 seconds per-person. Add the time to explain how it all works let's say it takes a minute per-person. Lets say that 857,191 [flychicago.com] international travelers come through a busy airport in a given month. Since it's December that's an average of 27,651.32 per-day which is 460.85 man-hours, just for finger-printing.

      Do the same calculation for the year (11,486,547/60=191442.45). Then multiply that by the cost of each employee (wages, payroll taxes, benefits, worker's comp, insurance (for stuff other than worker's benefits), etc), it's a HUGE amount of money just for finger printing every year at one busy airport (granted it is the busiest airport, but I doubt it's the busiest in terms of international travelers). If a $100,000 computer system can automate that it's a bargain (pays for itself in less than a month, not counting running costs, which can't be much).

      • by Halo1 (136547)

        People! Yes, you too [slashdot.org]! Please stop going along with the whole "if we're going to collectively act like idiots, lets at least act like a collective of efficient idiots"-bullcrap that I was trying to point out (but apparently not clearly enough).

        I was simply trying to express the sentiment that once upon a time (e.g., in the distant past of about 10 years ago), the only people that got fingerprinted where subjects of active investigations (give or take a few occasional abuses by law enforcement). And that ther

    • by pmarini (989354)
      West of Hawaaii there is Japan, and West of Japan there is China, which direction are you looking ?
  • 3D Light! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Unlike that 2D variety. Ours is intelligently designed to increase the portfolio for the ability to acquire specific traits through the application and realization of increased activation of photo-active compounds in a structured ideology to capture terrorists.
    • by Dekker3D (989692)

      i understood 2D and terrorists. those nasty terrorists have gone paper mario now?

      --
      actually, i could find an "intelligent design" in there too. christian, razor-sharp terrorist? jeez!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 14, 2009 @02:46PM (#27194403)

    Step 1: Place fingers on scanner
    Step 2: Tell scanner to scan fingers
    Step 3: ????
    Step 4: Police State!

    • by LiENUS (207736)
      You ever had your fingerprints scanned? It's a lot more complex than that. They have to get the entire fingerprint including the sides so it involves rolling of the fingers as they are scanned.
  • by innocent_white_lamb (151825) on Saturday March 14, 2009 @02:54PM (#27194461)

    Why should a technology developed using a grant from the public (taxpayers) be patented? Shouldn't the folks who paid for it be able to use it freely?

    • by Unoriginal_Nickname (1248894) on Saturday March 14, 2009 @03:31PM (#27194731)

      I'm going to disagree with your argument in letter but not in spirit.

      Grants are a form of investment. The government is paying a company money to encourage development that they believe will improve all of society. They are no more entitled to free use of the resulting innovation any more than another investor or venture capitalist would be. Unlike most investment, a grant is essentially a gift, but they do come with certain obligations that may offset the value of the "free" money.

      Good examples of this system working can be seen in the cable franchises. Local governments give a grant and monopoly to a selected cable company, with the obligation that service is made available to every single household in the region. Without the grant, the cable company may have never entered the region because the profit might have never paid off the cost of running the cable.

      I'm not going to disagree with you in spirit, however, because this particular area of research has nothing to offer society. Biometrics, until we have computers above the intelligence of a human security guard, are no more secure than a plain metal key (but a whole lot more gory).

      • by Jurily (900488)

        I'm not going to disagree with you in spirit, however, because this particular area of research has nothing to offer society.

        That's what they said about quantum physics and computers.

        I'd consider instant reliable 3D scanning generic enough to start playing around with.

      • Biometrics, until we have computers above the intelligence of a human security guard,

        Well, some of the customs / immigration people I've met over the years make even my blackberry look smart.

    • by tyme (6621)

      The main reason to patent publicly funded work is to prevent anybody from restricting access to that work. I'm not saying that this patent is supposed to be used for that purpose, but other work [google.com] has been patented specifically to ensure that anyone can use the technology without restriction (as the dedication on the referenced patent indicates).

  • There have been some attempts at contactless fingerprint readers for access control. The idea is to read from a distance of 1cm or so, rather than with the finger pressed up against the glass. This prevents dirt on the glass from messing up the image. In the 1990s, contactless devices were too expensive or too complicated. Now, they're probably feasible.

    • Also will prevent stealing fingerprints from the reading surface using scotch tape.

      *goes back to watching too many movies*
  • Will this help stop child porn on P2P networks, or help arrest teenagers who make off-handed comments about wanting to kill their classmates?

    If it doesn't do either of those things, I fail to see why law enforcement is interested.

  • by tjstork (137384)

    Ten seconds is too long. Even if we set aside the dubious government driven proposition that cataloging and numbering everyone is beneficial, the fact is, an identification system that takes ten seconds is simply not beneficial. About a second, is all it should take.

    Ten seconds, people won't be sure if the device is working or not, even if it says that it is. What do you do if a program stops running for ten seconds - you are start thinking about killing it. What do you do if you can't open your car do

  • Misspelling (Score:1, Redundant)

    by Tubal-Cain (1289912)

    This goal is beginning to lok feasible.

    I thank you misspelled a word.

  • Structured lighting (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dachannien (617929) on Saturday March 14, 2009 @04:27PM (#27195089)

    Structured lighting techniques are, in general, well known. The question is more whether the specific technique they're claiming is known or not.

  • Hollywood (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) on Saturday March 14, 2009 @04:33PM (#27195151)
    Hasn't the film industry been doing pretty much the same thing to generate 3D models of objects and people? I know the idea of projecting a grid onto an object and reconstructing the 3d data from images taken at different vantage points was thought of long ago.
  • Sounds like someone at DARPA got drunk and played too much final fantasy the weekend before their proposal was due...
  • Looks like my $10 pair of gloves beats their $420,000 fingerprinting device.....

    Me: 1,275 DHS: 0

    • Looks like my $10 pair of gloves beats their $420,000 fingerprinting device.....

      Me: 1,275 DHS: 0

      Putting my hands in my pockets for free beats their $420,000 device.

  • I never leave the house without first coating the tips of my fingers in Elmers' Glue.
  • Prior art. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    (Don't ask for a link, because I don't have one).

    A guy I know (PhD in physics) has done this more than 20 years ago. He basically used two light sources: a "white" one and one with a black->white gradient. Then he took a black & white pictures using nothing but the two light sources. Some image divisions and there you are: a depth map of the objects on the pictures!

    You can increase the quality if you use three pictures: one normal, one with a dark-> light gradient and one with a light->dark gra

  • by speedtux (1307149) on Saturday March 14, 2009 @09:31PM (#27197049)

    First of all, the patent captures hands, not fingerprints. More importantly, structured light is a standard technique for 3D capture that's in widespread use and has been around for decades. If you want to capture the 3D shape of hands, it's the obvious engineering solution.

  • $420,000 to a Kentucky company...

    Doesn't everybody in Kentucky have the same fingerprints?

    sorry! :-)
  • you could conceivably now be fingerprinted at a distance, were this tech highly perfected

    drive by fingerprinting

    a cop cruiser could just do driving patterns in a neighborhood of interest, fingerprinting everyone they drive by, until they find a match

  • I could see this technology useful for datacenters. However, considering the source I am hesitant to believe it was developed for such a honest purpose.

  • Isn't this just a fancy version of a laser scanner used to more efficiently keep tabs on Joe Citizen?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    structured light illumination is older than the internet. They can't patent it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Haven't seen the illustrations but it appears on the surface (hah) that they are using a combination of well-known structured light technique to create 3d model of the hand. Then they do a mapping from 3D to 2D so they can fit legacy fingerprint databases presumably. Would be mind-numbing but they fit your fingers into little slots. But it should be realized that this can easily be mapping the entire hand not just fingertips, and doing it at a subsurface level i.e. blood vessels. And.. the next step sorry t

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