Vascular biometrics for enhanced identification

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 make 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 does 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 themselves for identification, inserts a finger or the palm into a device which shines a near-infrared light on it. Due to the hemoglobin in the blood, vein patterns become visible in the form of ‘shadow patterns’. They are then captured as an image.

vascular-biometrics-palm-vein-technology
Image processing steps involved in creating vein patterns

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 have to enroll themselves. 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. An institution-wide biometric database stores the digital biometric templates.

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. They are then 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 capture. 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.

Vascular biometrics can also put a stop to medical identity thefts. Patient enrollment and authentication using vein-recognition can put a stop to health care 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.

The global palm vein biometrics market is set to grow stupendously at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of more than 22% until the end of 2020… North America will dominate the market and will post a market revenue of more than USD 438 million by the end of 2020.Technavio Global palm vein biometrics market report 2016-2020

What are the advantages of vascular biometric solutions?

Vascular biometrics have distinct advantages over fingerprint biometrics. This is because veins are present below the skin whereas fingerprints are on the skin surface. Let us look at the kind of benefits vein-based recognition management provides –

  1. 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.
  2. Greater Accuracy – Vascular biometrics are more accurate than fingerprint based biometrics and have lower FRR and FAR.
  3. Durability of the enrolled prints – Veins are present inside the skin and do not deteriorate due to external conditions or age. As a result, authentication of a person using his vascular biometrics can be easy after a long duration of time.
  4. Non-intrusive – Vein pattern reading devices are contact-less. They shine infrared light on the finger or palm and capture the illuminated veins.
  5. Lower maintenance – As the vascular scanners are contact-less, they do not need regular surface cleaning and save on maintenance cost.

Due to the inherent advantages of vascular biometrics over other biometric recognition technologies, offender identification can be very accurate. Identity-related crimes can be reduced with vascular biometrics. Thus strengthening the capabilities of law enforcement agencies around the world.


Danny Thakkar is the co-founder of Bayometric, one of the leading biometric solution providers in the world. He has been in the Biometric Industry for 10+ years and has extensive experience across public and private sector verticals. Currently, he is chief evangelist for Touch N Go and blogs regularly at www.bayometric.com and www.touchngoid.com.

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