Researchers at the University of Warwick in the UK have developed a way to identify partial, distorted, scratched, smudged, or otherwise warped fingerprints in a few seconds. Previous techniques have tried to identify a few key features on a fingerprint and match them against a database of templates. The new method considers the entire detailed pattern of each print and transforms the topological pattern into a standard coordinate system, allowing researchers to "unwarp" any fingerprint that has been distorted and create a clear digital representation of the fingerprint that can be mapped on to an image space of other fingerprints held on a database.

This unwarping is so effective that it allows, for the first time, comparison of the position of individual sweat pores on a fingerprint. The method also is able to give almost instantaneous results, since new prints scanned by the system are unwarped and overlaid onto a virtual space that includes all available finger-prints. It does not matter if there are a thousand or a million fingerprints in the database -- the result comes back in seconds.

The researchers are exploring a number of commercial opportunities for the new technology including commercial access control systems, financial transaction authorization systems, and possibly even ID cards, passports, or border control systems.

Find out more here .