Tuesday, February 1, 2011


There is a reason to get interested in this article from rediff. It brings that 'I said so' smile in your face, not exactly sadistic though. It is more like getting an agreement from the community which is important for us to make development in a complementary technology space. It is useful for funding research, answering reviewers, keeping faith etc.

We work on certain area of biometric signature generation which is anything but fingerprint. We leave retina scan out of this because it is cumbersome and costly. The critic finds faults with us citing 'finger-print' based systems are a kind of full proof as finger print is 'unique'. While they accept that ours is easy to use and has much, much wider applicability, the percentage accuracy were always doubted or looked down upon vis-a-vis finger print based system. Almost all the points made in this article used to be cited by us but such reports by a lead media house help in developing a general agreement.

It is some time to have our developments available commercially but there are a lot of groups world wide pursuing that space and hope to have something in near future. Now excerpts from the Rediff article available with a video demo at http://www.rediff.com/news/report/fool-proof-uid-system-for-indians-blah/20110201.htm :

However, we wish the finger print based system developer very best so that they come up with a more robust system. Competition helps all and the solution may lie in multi modal system i.e. considering more than one mode : finger print is one and what we do, could be the other.
In a demonstration, an electronic systems expert specialising in biometrics exposed the gaping hole in the assumption that a fingerprint is a secure way to identify individuals. It would cost less than a dollar -- Rs 30 to be exact -- to fool the system, according to J T D'souza, managing director of Sparc Systems Limited. "...all one needs is wax, a small dish and a small tube of fevicol. ...making a finger print impression without the knowledge of the person is relatively expensive. It costs Rs 250."

He used a thin layer of skin-like substance which has the impression of his wife's fingerprint on his hand and moistens it with his breath. This fooled the system.

He explained that finger prints from the individuals are stored as images, from which the coordinates of several points on the ridges and valleys of the finger are recorded. "Each attempt to record the fingerprint on the scanner may yield different images owing to the amount of pressure applied and the moisture. Moreover, ridges and valleys on the fingerprint may be altered by years of hard labour.

Authorities in South Korea, which has the most extensive use of the biometric system, noted that in Seoul, the fingerprint of each person underwent progressive deterioration over a period of 1.5 years for over 50 percent of the individuals sampled, said D'souza. 

"Even forensic science experts can't confirm 100 per cent that two fingerprints are from the same person. 

A study on the fingerprint database of the Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed that a single query may throw up possible matches ranging between 5 and 50000.

"Contrary to popular belief, fingerprints are neither unique and nor does it remain the same for an individual over a period of time," said D'souza.

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