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10 May, 2022

Understanding Fingerprint Identification for Biometric Security

Fingerprint identification has remained the most popular form of biometric authentication even after the wave of innovations in biometric authentication technologies in the last two decades. Easy to understand and operate, fingerprint identification devices are affordable and convenient to install. Over the years, this form of biometric verification has spread tremendously to various applications, not only facilitating security and access control but also convenience and sophistication.

Global Market for Fingerprint Biometrics


Image Source:- Researchmarkets

In this article, we will understand a bit in-depth about fingerprint identification and how Spectra uses this biometric identifier for enforcing absolute security and identity protection.

History of Fingerprint Identification

The origin of fingerprint identification dates back to 1686. The fact that every fingerprint is unique was first discovered by physiologist Marcello Malpighi who discovered a series of loops and ridges in a fingerprint while examining it under a microscope. It did not end there; another physiologist Jan Purkinje also noted nine different types of fingerprints in humans, concluding the fact that no fingerprint can be copied or inherited.

The pioneer in the basis of fingerprint identification, Sir Francis Galton showed how fingerprints can be used to identify individuals. Uncovering hereditary traits by studying more about fingerprints, he soon discovered that not only are two fingerprints never the same but also that the fingerprint of an individual remains constant throughout his/her lifetime. All of Galton’s findings on fingerprints are published in a book where he classifies the most common fingerprint types: the loop, whorl, and arch.

Thanks to the findings of such great men, the potential value of fingerprints was recognized and put to better use. Sir Edward Richard Henry, a British officer stationed in India developed a system that would scan the fingerprints of criminals for record-keeping. Juan Vucetic, a police official of Argentina also followed Galton’s information to set up a fingerprint identification system.

Around the beginning of the 20th century, fingerprint information was compiled in Scotland Yard using the technology derived from the classifications of Henry’s system. By 1903, the New York prison system and the Federal Bureau of Prisons established a fingerprint system and by the beginning of 1905, the US Army also started to use fingerprint identification as a means to authenticate or verify individuals.

The lesser-known truth about Henry’s Classification System is that two Indian sub-Inspectors under Sir Edward Henry – Hem Chandra Bose and Qazi Azizul Haque, were actually the main people who developed it. The duo devised mathematical formulae that categorized fingerprint identification patterns and made the task of detecting matches very easy.

How do we use fingerprints today?

From the 14th century to the 20th, we can see how far fingerprint technology has come. The journey has been a tedious but worthy one. Even if the emergence of DNA-based evidence has been deemed more accurate in the 21st century, one cannot deny the contribution of fingerprint identification and its advanced applications in our daily lives.

Today, fingerprints are not only used to catch criminals or suspects from a crime scene but in different spheres for various purposes:

  • To create a unique identity of an individual by linking it to their government-registered IDs/documents
  • In educational institutions and various work-oriented organizations for attendance management and timekeeping
  • In areas with highly confidential information to restrict unauthorized individuals
  • To access personal gadgets like mobiles and computers

Advantages of Fingerprint Identification

Mainly because fingerprints are practically unique to every individual, fingerprint identification has become a useful biometric for authentication and verification. Fingerprints are highly impossible to duplicate or get stolen or used without will. The pattern of ridges and valleys in a finger called “minutiae” is what makes each fingerprint a unique signature, and this pattern is what becomes the basis of fingerprint identification.

Fingerprint Ridges and Valleys


Image source: ResearchGate

Instead of remembering passwords that can be guessed or safekeeping keys that can be stolen, the main advantage of fingerprint identification is that it diminishes the chances of wrongful entry or access and further creates a secure environment, discouraging any wrongdoer.

Biometric Fingerprint Identification and Access Control

Suppose you own a large office and you want to install a fingerprint scanning system on the main entrance of each floor from where the employees enter their workspace. How would it work?

There are two separate processes for an automated fingerprint identification system being used for access control or time attendance tracking.

First, there is enrollment, where the system learns about all the people it will have to verify each day. During enrollment, every employee’s fingerprints are scanned and then stored in a coded form on a secure database. This entire process usually takes less than 30 seconds for each employee, wherein the system admin can then go ahead and add any more access permissions as per the company’s policy. Once enrollment is done, the system is ready for use.

Note: The system doesn’t store the image of the fingerprint and hence it becomes nearly impossible to steal anybody’s identity.

Now comes the second stage – verification. Any employee who wants to gain access to their floor/office has to put their finger on a scanner while arriving for the day. The biometric scanner takes their fingerprint, converts it into a binary code, and then checks it against all the codes available in the database stored during enrollment to match identities. Once an identity is matched, the system decides whether the person is authorized for access or not.

Sophisticated fingerprint systems like Bioscribe 3S can store and match up to 25,00,000 prints 1:1! Click here to find out more.



How does a computer compare prints?


Spectra’s Fingerprint Identification Technology

Fingerprint identification is a significant component of the biometric identity management system. There are hundreds of fingerprint scanner developers in the market, however, not everyone can fortify their products to become completely invulnerable. As mentioned earlier, it was Indians who actually achieved a breakthrough in fingerprint identification; thus, carrying the legacy forward, today, Indian biometric system manufacturers command market presence to a huge extent. Spectra is one of the leading biometric OEMs in the industry that also develops related access and identity management software, facilitating a seamless user experience.
When scanning fingerprints to control access to buildings and resources, there is more than one method employed. There are optical scanners, capacitance scanners, ultrasonic scanners, and thermal scanners. Spectra uses optical scanners that are most widely used for fingerprint identification.

An optical scanner works by shining a bright light over your fingerprint and capturing what is basically a digital photograph. This image is fed into a computer scanner. The scanner uses a light-sensitive microchip to produce a digital image. The computer analyzes the image automatically, selecting just the fingerprint, and then uses sophisticated pattern-matching software to turn it into a code.

The research and development team at Spectra has devoted themselves to developing a unique algorithm to prevent any spoofing attempt on its devices. The automated fingerprint identification system of Spectra not only scans the fingerprint of an individual but makes sure that it is secured from threats.

The way Spectra carries out biometric authentication via fingerprints is by converting them into binary code (a method of mathematical expression that uses only two symbols: typically, “0” and “1”); that can only be interpreted by computer software. Next, this binary number gets encrypted which means that it cannot be read by anyone. The fingerprints that are captured, stored, and communicated to various access portals in the system stay in an encrypted format, establishing impenetrable barriers, securing user identities.

To further enforce user identity protection, Spectra uses a more efficient algorithmic template. Generally, there are two templates used for fingerprint identification:

  1. The Aadhaar Template
  2. The Proprietary Template

Spectra uses the latter, which is more effective and different from how the Aadhaar template functions. Spectra uses a more specific methodology that offers incomparable identity security.

This is how Spectra ensures that nobody can proxy or misuse the identity of any other individual. The safety aspect of identity authentication has been kept at the forefront of our technology development.

advanced range of Spectra's devices

Spectra has particularly taken care of both these parameters and maintained the highest industry standards in security and access control.

It is already becoming increasingly common to have to confirm your identity with biometric information: either your fingerprint, a scan of the iris or retina in your eye, or a scan of your face. Soon, we can expect to see biometric fingerprint scanners on objects like our cars, elevators, grocery stores, basically the ordinary, daily objects we use.

To read more about biometric technology applications in our daily lives, check out our knowledge center.

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