Scientists from The Langevin Institute, Paris, France, have constructed a new fingerprint imaging system that peers inside the finger to take a picture — a more reliable and secure way of identifying individuals. The fingerprint sensor, based on full field optical coherence tomography (FF-OCT), uses an inexpensive fast camera.

Despite the widespread use of commercial fingerprint sensors, problems with the devices persist; some users, for example, have difficulties with the sensors because their fingerprints are flattened from old age or damaged by routine manual work. Additionally, people attempting to escape identification may use fake prints to "fool" the system.

Most optical fingerprint sensors today produce images by reflecting light from areas where the skin does not come in contact with a glass plate — a technique that captures details from only the very top layer of skin. In contrast, the new device images the "internal fingerprints," which have the same pattern as external ones, but are about half a millimeter below the skin's surface.

A 2D image of the fingerprint is taken directly, saving time and simplifying data processing. The team has plans to soon test the device in Turkey, where 100 people will have their fingerprints scanned. The researchers are also working to further improve the imaging speed and depth capabilities of the system.


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