Fake fingerprints’ usage is rising alarmingly (simply Google for “fake fingerprints” and look at the search results!). At the same time fingerprints suffer from multiple inherent drawbacks which makes their durability over long periods doubtful. Vascular biometrics (finger-vein and palm-vein) based identification is fast emerging as an effective technology to counter the disadvantages with fingerprint-based recognition.
In this article we will get introduced to vascular biometrics and its working. We will then understand the important advantages that vascular biometrics provides over traditional fingerprint biometrics. Finally, we will look at how vascular biometrics can help law enforcement agencies with faultless offender identification and crime prevention.
What is vascular biometrics?
The adjective vascular identifies something as related to blood vessels or veins. Biometric is a unique measurable physical characteristic. Vascular biometric is a combination of the two; measurement of blood vessels.
Vascular biometrics solutions use vein patterns for uniquely identifying an individual. The most commonly used vascular identification solutions use finger-vein or palm-vein based recognition mechanisms.
How do vascular biometrics work?
Vascular biometrics capture vein patterns inside the skin to identify a person. They use a unique property of hemoglobin which is that it glows when exposed to near-infrared light. The subject, who is presenting themself for identification, inserts a finger or the palm into a device which shines near-infrared light on it. Due to the hemoglobin in the blood, vein patterns become visible in the form of ‘shadow patterns’, and are captured as an image.
Vascular biometric based identity management solutions essentially work in two modes-
Mode 1. Enrollment. Enrollment mode adds an individual as a valid member. Whenever a new member joins an institution, they needs to get themselves enrolled. During the enrollment process, their vascular biometrics are captured as an image using near-infrared light. This image is then read using sophisticated pattern recognition algorithms and converted to its equivalent digital template after ‘reading’ the captured image. The digital biometric template is stored in an institution-wide biometric database.
Mode 2. Authentication. Subsequently, whenever the enrolled person needs to access any access-restricted resource in the institution, they need to be authenticated against the enrolled users. Upon presenting their vascular biometric to the scanner for capture, the scanned file is converted to its equivalent biometric template. This biometric template is then compared to all enrolled biometric templates stored in the biometric database. If a match is found, then the user is deemed authenticated and they are allowed to access the resource.
What are the possible applications of vascular biometrics?
One of the most common problems faced by law enforcement agencies in crime prevention is aliasing, that is, when the offender fakes his/her identity via fraudulent identification papers. Often, repeat offenders use this loophole to escape getting caught. With vascular biometrics – criminals faking identification can be uniquely identified using their vein-patterns. Identity thefts as well as false identifications can be eliminated using vascular biometrics.
Medical identity thefts can also be effectively stopped with vascular biometrics. Patient enrollment and authentication using vein-recognition can put a stop to healthcare frauds.
Many countries of the world are planning to come up with vascular palm-based identity management solutions at international airports. Vascular biometrics can help in accurately identifying threats at airports to prevent them from moving across borders.
What are the advantages of vascular biometric solutions?
Vascular biometrics have distinct advantages over fingerprint biometrics due to the fact that veins are present below the skin whereas fingerprints are on skin surface. Let us look at the kind of benefits vein-based recognition management provides –
- Spoofing is near impossible – Vein patterns are present inside the skin. One cannot copy a vein print and present it to an infrared scanner in such a way that it is mistaken for live veins. In fact, few vascular scanning technologies have hemoglobin-based liveness detection. In such cases it practically impossible to spoof veins. Fingerprints, on the other hand, are more susceptible to spoofing.
- Greater Accuracy – Vascular biometrics are more accurate than fingerprint based biometrics and have lower FRR and FAR.
- Durability of the enrolled prints – Veins are present inside the skin and do not deteriorate due to external conditions or age. As a result, a person enrolled using his vascular biometrics can be authenticated with ease after long duration of time.
- Non-intrusive – Vein pattern reading devices are contact-less. They shine infrared light on the finger or palm and capture the illuminated veins.
- Lower maintenance – As the vascular scanners are contact-less, they do not need regular surface cleaning and save on maintenance cost.
Offender identification can be done far more accurately with vascular biometrics due to its inherent advantages over other biometric recognition technologies. Identity-related crimes can be reduced with vascular biometrics and strengthen the capabilities of law enforcement agencies around the world.