You have probably seen models of fingerprints in motion pictures. What you may not have seen, however, are life-size 3D hand models made by an Indian-American researcher and his group utilizing a high-determination 3D printer.
Like any optical device, fingerprint and hand scanners need to be calibrated, but currently there is no standard method for doing so.
"This is the first time a whole hand 3D target has been created to calibrate fingerprint scanners," said Distinguished Professor Anil Jain from Michigan State University (MSU).
"As a byproduct of this research, we realised a fake 3D hand, essentially a spoof, with someone's fingerprints, could potentially allow a crook to steal the person's identity to break into a vault, contaminate a crime scene or enter the country illegally," Jain cautioned.
Jain and his biometrics team were studying how to test and calibrate fingerprint scanners commonly used across the globe at police departments, airport immigration counters, banks and even amusement parks.
To test the scanners, they created life-size 3D hand models complete with all five fingerprints.
"Another application of this technology will be to evaluate the spoof-resistance of commercial fingerprint scanners. We have highlighted a security loophole and the limitations of existing fingerprint scanning technology, now it's up to the scanner manufacturers to design a scanner that is spoof-resistant," Jain noted in a university statement.
The study aims to design and develop standard models and procedures for consistent and reliable evaluation of fingerprint readers and is funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
"We are very pleased with this research and how it is showing the uncertainties in the process and what it can mean for the accuracy of the readers," said Nicholas Paulter, Group Leader for the Security Technologies Group at NIST and a co-author of the study.
The FBI, CIA, military and manufacturers will all be interested in this project, he added.
Along with Jain and Paulter, the study was co-authored by Sunpreet Arora, MSU doctoral student.
(With inputs from IANS)