November 12, 2008
Fingers Quickly Becoming the Newest Form Of ID
European companies are beginning to roll out an advanced biometric system that identifies people from the lattice of blood vessels inside their fingers.
The technology, called finger vein authentication, was developed by Hitachi and has been introduced by Japanese banks over the last two years.
Easydentic Group, a French biometric company, announced that it will be using the new technology in door access systems to be sold throughout Europe.
In Japan, Hitachi announced that it will be introducing 20,000 finger vein systems at kiosks belonging to two Japanese companies. The devices will be used to protect customer information databases by requiring workers to use the security system before being given access to the information.
The technology works by sending infrared light at different angles through the finger. The light is partially absorbed by hemoglobin in the veins, and the pattern is recorded as a 3D finger vein profile. This is then turned into code which can be matched with a pre-registered profile.
The technology is difficult to forge due to the veins being invisible to the eye. Fingerprints can be lifted, but taking someone's finger vein profile would be very complex.
The possibility that criminals could steal people's fingers has been downplayed by Hitachi spokesmen. According to the company: "As blood would flow out of a disconnected finger, authentication would no longer be possible."
Hitachi says the system is less expensive than voice recognition or iris scanning, and has a lower rejection rate than fingerprinting.
In Japan, the system is already being used in thousands of cash machines and ATM's.
Fujitsu has developed an alternative technology that scans the people's palms for a similar vein pattern. The system is already being used at Carolinas HealthCare System in Charlotte, North Carolina. The hospital is the first healthcare provider in the U.S. to use the new technology.
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