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3-D Light System May Revolutionize Fingerprinting

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the 256-times-10 dept.

Security 71

coondoggie writes "The US Department of Homeland Security's Science & Technology Directorate recently awarded almost $420,000 to a Kentucky company to further develop a contactless finger print/biometric system. The goal is a machine that can snap 10 fingerprints in high resolution in less than 10 seconds, without human intervention. This goal is beginning to look feasible. FlashScan3D is working with the University of Kentucky's Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments, and has developed a technique called 'structured light illumination' (WIPO patent description), where a pattern of dots or stripes is projected onto a curved or irregular surface."

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71 comments

Touchless fingerprinting? (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27194251)

Like RFID-loaded passports and cameras at sports arenas, this technology only seems useful at violating our privacy remotely.

We are talking about Chinese Democracy a few stories below. What scares me more than Chinese Democracy (and Axl's hairplugs) is American Fascism.

Re:Touchless fingerprinting? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#27194309)

I don't see any mention of taking prints remotely. This just appears to be a faster, more accurate, and less messy way to take prints than the traditional ink system.

Re:Touchless fingerprinting? (3, Informative)

shadowturtle (960092) | more than 5 years ago | (#27194685)

Ink? Do they even use that anymore? When I was fingerprinted (for work) they used a scanner.

Re:Touchless fingerprinting? (1)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 5 years ago | (#27196029)

Indeed, they stopped using ink about 10 years ago (even here in Australia). You might find smaller out of the way police stations in outback towns with paper & ink, but not in big cities.

This is most definitely for gathering prints without the subject realising.

Re:Touchless fingerprinting? (5, Interesting)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#27196263)

Or airport fingerprint scanning. Using 10 fingers, rather than just one, should help make the "Gummie finger" forgery technique somewhat more difficult. (Previously discussed on Slashdot, and in articles such as http://news.cnet.com/2100-1001-915580.html [cnet.com] ) Basically, fingerprint scanners are _all_ easily misled by fingertips made of gelatin with the fake print overlaid on them. The necessary tools are vaguely decent copies of the victim's fingerprint, such as those from police files, a printer, a bowl of gelatin, and some skill with a knife.

But fingerprint forgery turns out not to be that difficult, especially against automated systems that have to auto-correlate such semi-random shapes.

"This goal is beginning to lok feasible." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27194253)

Do you actual do any real editing slashdot?

Re:"This goal is beginning to lok feasible." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27195309)

I think kdawson knows what he's doing. Nobodies that dumb!

He's doing it on purpose because of his low self-esteem issues. He adds or leaves a few errors to satisfy his worthless existence. I think it's best if we just ignore him for a while until he starts to actually do his job right.

Oh, boy! (3, Funny)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#27194287)

The US Department of Homeland Security's Science & Technology Directorate...

Stop right there. Already, I don't like it!

Re:Oh, boy! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27196399)

The goal is a machine that can snap 10 fingerprints in high resolution in less than 10 seconds, without human intervention.

Interesting summary. If there is no human intervention, whose fingerprints are snapped?

Re:Oh, boy! (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#27211361)

Interesting summary. If there is no human intervention, whose fingerprints are snapped?

Everyone's.

Great! (3, Interesting)

Halo1 (136547) | more than 5 years ago | (#27194295)

We may be turning the West into a collection of police states, but at least they'll be time-efficient police states.

Who'd have though it would ever be considered a problem if it took more than 10 seconds to take 10 finger prints...

Re:Great! (3, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#27194385)

Who'd have though it would ever be considered a problem if it took more than 10 seconds to take 10 finger prints...

Think border control and the DHS's "tourists are terrorists" programs (not the official name, of course).

Re:Great! (3, Funny)

Halo1 (136547) | more than 5 years ago | (#27194451)

Yes, that's what my "police state" comment was referring to. Of course, why stop there? They might catch even more terrorists if they take more fingerprints.

Fingerprinting for Freedom! Did you already give a fingerprint today? Your fingerprint too could belong to a terrorist, so get fingerprinted now! Never forget: fingerprint early, and fingerprint often!

Re:Great! (1)

SanguineV (1197225) | more than 5 years ago | (#27198531)

"If we have your fingerprint on file then we can be rule you out! After all, if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about!"

Never mind when the fingerprint database is hacked, or lost, or sold for advertising, or shared with another state...

Re:Great! (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#27198403)

Think border control and the DHS's "tourists are terrorists" programs (not the official name, of course).

Damn, that is perfect. Did you think of that up on your own?

Re:Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27194393)

A police state is a equilibrium position.
To not have a police state requires spending energy.

Re:Great! (2, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27194431)

Balanced on the head of a pin is also an equilibrium state. But it is inherently unstable.

Re:Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27194559)

Hey, that's a good analogy. Fail!

Re:Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27206259)

Someone demonstrates that there is a potential flaw in the GP's thinking and is just disregarded? Couldn't you at least make some semblance of reason to show why that flaw doesn't apply?

Re:Great! (2, Insightful)

value_added (719364) | more than 5 years ago | (#27194527)

We may be turning the West into a collection of police states, but at least they'll be time-efficient police states.

On the other hand, fingerprint analysis [wikipedia.org] will probably remain a slow, laborious and error-prone process.

no.. that's not the issue (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 5 years ago | (#27194697)

they'll improve the technology up to blink scanning, like drive thru ez-pass.

any public place will be subject to pass-by scanners

and paying merchants cash to avoid deep data mining won't work anymore-

wearing gloves will get you searched.

Re:Great! (4, Insightful)

StarkRG (888216) | more than 5 years ago | (#27195959)

It takes about two seconds per finger. So, assuming they want all ten fingers it takes 20 seconds per-person. Add the time to explain how it all works let's say it takes a minute per-person. Lets say that 857,191 [flychicago.com] international travelers come through a busy airport in a given month. Since it's December that's an average of 27,651.32 per-day which is 460.85 man-hours, just for finger-printing.

Do the same calculation for the year (11,486,547/60=191442.45). Then multiply that by the cost of each employee (wages, payroll taxes, benefits, worker's comp, insurance (for stuff other than worker's benefits), etc), it's a HUGE amount of money just for finger printing every year at one busy airport (granted it is the busiest airport, but I doubt it's the busiest in terms of international travelers). If a $100,000 computer system can automate that it's a bargain (pays for itself in less than a month, not counting running costs, which can't be much).

Re:Great! (1)

Halo1 (136547) | more than 5 years ago | (#27196161)

People! Yes, you too [slashdot.org] ! Please stop going along with the whole "if we're going to collectively act like idiots, lets at least act like a collective of efficient idiots"-bullcrap that I was trying to point out (but apparently not clearly enough).

I was simply trying to express the sentiment that once upon a time (e.g., in the distant past of about 10 years ago), the only people that got fingerprinted where subjects of active investigations (give or take a few occasional abuses by law enforcement). And that therefore it would simply have been inconceivable, even if that word meant what you thought it meant, that requiring more than 10 seconds per person to fingerprint them would warrant $400K of government money to speed up the process.

As if any western government would start fingerprinting people like cattle gets earmarked...

And yes, times have changed, but that's my point exactly.

Re:Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27195997)

They want it this fast so they can Finger scan EVERY person that gets on a plane at the airport.
Simple really.

Re:Great! (1)

pmarini (989354) | more than 5 years ago | (#27202691)

West of Hawaaii there is Japan, and West of Japan there is China, which direction are you looking ?

Yes but... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27194311)

Yes but, how many Jews per hour can it exterminate?

Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27194325)

I'm very interested in these next generation loks for doors. How long, though, until someone comes up with an attack against this which compares to the Gummy Bear method or using superglue smoke to lift fingerprints?

Bring on the Gordian Knot company!

3D Light! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27194339)

Unlike that 2D variety. Ours is intelligently designed to increase the portfolio for the ability to acquire specific traits through the application and realization of increased activation of photo-active compounds in a structured ideology to capture terrorists.

Re:3D Light! (1)

Dekker3D (989692) | more than 5 years ago | (#27194675)

i understood 2D and terrorists. those nasty terrorists have gone paper mario now?

--
actually, i could find an "intelligent design" in there too. christian, razor-sharp terrorist? jeez!

lok (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27194357)

Let's try to keep all comments about the typo in this thread so we don't pollute the rest of the conversation.

I hear they have these things called scanners now. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27194403)

Step 1: Place fingers on scanner
Step 2: Tell scanner to scan fingers
Step 3: ????
Step 4: Police State!

Re:I hear they have these things called scanners n (1)

LiENUS (207736) | more than 5 years ago | (#27194823)

You ever had your fingerprints scanned? It's a lot more complex than that. They have to get the entire fingerprint including the sides so it involves rolling of the fingers as they are scanned.

patent description??? (5, Interesting)

innocent_white_lamb (151825) | more than 5 years ago | (#27194461)

Why should a technology developed using a grant from the public (taxpayers) be patented? Shouldn't the folks who paid for it be able to use it freely?

Investment, not employment (5, Interesting)

Unoriginal_Nickname (1248894) | more than 5 years ago | (#27194731)

I'm going to disagree with your argument in letter but not in spirit.

Grants are a form of investment. The government is paying a company money to encourage development that they believe will improve all of society. They are no more entitled to free use of the resulting innovation any more than another investor or venture capitalist would be. Unlike most investment, a grant is essentially a gift, but they do come with certain obligations that may offset the value of the "free" money.

Good examples of this system working can be seen in the cable franchises. Local governments give a grant and monopoly to a selected cable company, with the obligation that service is made available to every single household in the region. Without the grant, the cable company may have never entered the region because the profit might have never paid off the cost of running the cable.

I'm not going to disagree with you in spirit, however, because this particular area of research has nothing to offer society. Biometrics, until we have computers above the intelligence of a human security guard, are no more secure than a plain metal key (but a whole lot more gory).

Re:Investment, not employment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27195257)

I think you're overestimating the intelligence of a human security guard.

Re:Investment, not employment (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27196247)

I'm not going to disagree with you in spirit, however, because this particular area of research has nothing to offer society.

That's what they said about quantum physics and computers.

I'd consider instant reliable 3D scanning generic enough to start playing around with.

Re:Investment, not employment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27196563)

Yeah, why are they using this tech for something as boring as fingerprints?

Re:Investment, not employment (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 5 years ago | (#27200007)

Biometrics, until we have computers above the intelligence of a human security guard,

Well, some of the customs / immigration people I've met over the years make even my blackberry look smart.

Re:Investment, not employment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27208229)

this particular area of research has nothing to offer society

This particular area of research has plenty to offer society. The technology used here is actually a combination of two different things, each of which is incredibly useful.

The first is "structured light illumination," which is a computer vision system for seeing in three dimensions. Granted, the technology has its problems, but aside from this particular application, it can be used for many useful things. A simple google search [google.com] can provide a variety of examples.

The second technology is machine learning. A system that can automatically sort through a pile of stuff and classify it into neat little categories can be phenomenally useful. Although it's used here to match the scan to a database of prints, it doesn't take a lot of imagination to think of highly beneficial examples, including everything from monitoring the health of every patient in a hospital, every second, and predicting complications before they happen, to computers that can have a conversation with you.

What you're objecting to here is the application of these technologies. I understand that no one wants the mass farming of personal data and the automatic tracking of individuals in every moment, but take a moment to consider exactly what it is you don't like about this. Don't mistake the technology for the intentions behind its use. The science here is totally innocuous, beneficial even. For that reason, these two technologies will be developed no matter what. Throwing together a system like this would be relatively trivial not long thereafter.

So my point is that if you don't like this for its privacy issues, object to the enforcement of privacy by our government. Don't object to the development of otherwise highly beneficial technologies that can do worlds of good when used for other applications.

Re:patent description??? (1)

tyme (6621) | more than 5 years ago | (#27196769)

The main reason to patent publicly funded work is to prevent anybody from restricting access to that work. I'm not saying that this patent is supposed to be used for that purpose, but other work [google.com] has been patented specifically to ensure that anyone can use the technology without restriction (as the dedication on the referenced patent indicates).

Gloves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27194509)

Damn, now I need tinfoil gloves to go with my hat!

Instead Of LAME Research: +1, True (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27194529)

the "academics" should figure out a way to win more
more basketball games [kentucky.com] .

Yours In Socialism,
Kilgore Trout

better than a social security number I guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27194547)

Well, if I have to live in a police state, at least this will help them know if it is really me or just someone using my name and Social security number.

Meanwhile, what happens if it can't read my fingerprints because of damage to the skin?

Do I get sent off to jail in under 10 seconds by the computer that doesn't understand I have a skin condition?

Conctactless fingerprint reader (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#27194561)

There have been some attempts at contactless fingerprint readers for access control. The idea is to read from a distance of 1cm or so, rather than with the finger pressed up against the glass. This prevents dirt on the glass from messing up the image. In the 1990s, contactless devices were too expensive or too complicated. Now, they're probably feasible.

Re:Conctactless fingerprint reader (1)

kurzweilfreak (829276) | more than 5 years ago | (#27195747)

Also will prevent stealing fingerprints from the reading surface using scotch tape.

*goes back to watching too many movies*

How will this stop child porn (1)

BigHungryJoe (737554) | more than 5 years ago | (#27194623)

Will this help stop child porn on P2P networks, or help arrest teenagers who make off-handed comments about wanting to kill their classmates?

If it doesn't do either of those things, I fail to see why law enforcement is interested.

Ten seconds is too long. (1, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27194651)

Ten seconds is too long. Even if we set aside the dubious government driven proposition that cataloging and numbering everyone is beneficial, the fact is, an identification system that takes ten seconds is simply not beneficial. About a second, is all it should take.

Ten seconds, people won't be sure if the device is working or not, even if it says that it is. What do you do if a program stops running for ten seconds - you are start thinking about killing it. What do you do if you can't open your car door for ten seconds? You begin to doubt the key. Even typing in a password and waiting ten seconds for a response is cause for some doubt about your password.

Ten seconds is just way too long. If you are going to fund a technology like this, then hold them to a second.

Re:Ten seconds is too long. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27195129)

Ten seconds isn't too long in this case.

This is not for authentication and access control, but a replacement for the current ink-paper-scan system. As another posted above, taking a full set of prints takes a while and is messy.

If authentication and access control were the objectives, there are much better alternatives. E.g., "finger vein" authentication, which is being used in Japan and is also being deployed in China; see:

http://www.hitachi.co.jp/products/it/veinid/global/introduction/index.html

Misspelling (0, Redundant)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27194701)

This goal is beginning to lok feasible.

I thank you misspelled a word.

Re:Misspelling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27202111)

I thInk you misspelled a word.

TFTFY etc

Investment Opportunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27194727)

Time to invest in glove companies.

10 fingerprints in 10 seconds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27194833)

... assuming a full set, then that is nearly 80 years continuous use to fingerprint the current US population.

Geez, a man could grow old and die in that time!

Re:10 fingerprints in 10 seconds (3, Insightful)

flerchin (179012) | more than 5 years ago | (#27194907)

And if they had 80 of these devices, that's only 1 continuous year. If they had ~80k they could do the entire population in a single 8 hour day. Never underestimate the ability of the government to waste money invading our privacy.

Structured lighting (2, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#27195089)

Structured lighting techniques are, in general, well known. The question is more whether the specific technique they're claiming is known or not.

Hollywood (2, Interesting)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27195151)

Hasn't the film industry been doing pretty much the same thing to generate 3D models of objects and people? I know the idea of projecting a grid onto an object and reconstructing the 3d data from images taken at different vantage points was thought of long ago.

Drunk, mayhaps? (1)

RockoTDF (1042780) | more than 5 years ago | (#27195283)

Sounds like someone at DARPA got drunk and played too much final fantasy the weekend before their proposal was due...

10 Steps Ahead Of DHS..... (1)

IHC Navistar (967161) | more than 5 years ago | (#27195289)

Looks like my $10 pair of gloves beats their $420,000 fingerprinting device.....

Me: 1,275 DHS: 0

Re:10 Steps Ahead Of DHS..... (1)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#27196469)

Looks like my $10 pair of gloves beats their $420,000 fingerprinting device.....

Me: 1,275 DHS: 0

Putting my hands in my pockets for free beats their $420,000 device.

Prior art. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27196733)

(Don't ask for a link, because I don't have one).

A guy I know (PhD in physics) has done this more than 20 years ago. He basically used two light sources: a "white" one and one with a black->white gradient. Then he took a black & white pictures using nothing but the two light sources. Some image divisions and there you are: a depth map of the objects on the pictures!

You can increase the quality if you use three pictures: one normal, one with a dark-> light gradient and one with a light->dark gradient.

The only thing you should be able to do is get the gradient right (the more linear the better), but that's even something he managed to do at home with a printer, and old-fashioned chemical photo camera and some brains.

At some convention at that time he demonstrated the technology showing "flying fish". That is, he pointed the device at a fish aquarium. As light sources he used infrared lamps (and infrared cameras), so the whole effect could be done in real time during day time (actually during artificial light :-) Since the water in the aquarium was trandsparent and did not behave differently when photographed with different light sources, it was practically invisible on the 3D depth maps -- hence the *flying& fish...

I don't have any links because this is a 1st hand story. I don't know if it has been published, but it was a public exhibition, so there sould be *some* records available of that -- just in case someone is going for the litigation :-)

standard engineering technique (2, Informative)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 5 years ago | (#27197049)

First of all, the patent captures hands, not fingerprints. More importantly, structured light is a standard technique for 3D capture that's in widespread use and has been around for decades. If you want to capture the 3D shape of hands, it's the obvious engineering solution.

Thank goodness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27197193)

This has to be more sanitary. Think about it. Would you want to stick your fingers where other people have stuck their fingers? How many of you actually wash your hands after using the bathroom? Think about how many who don't, who would otherwise use a fingerprint scanner instead

wear gloves (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27197525)

you could conceivably now be fingerprinted at a distance, were this tech highly perfected

drive by fingerprinting

a cop cruiser could just do driving patterns in a neighborhood of interest, fingerprinting everyone they drive by, until they find a match

Source (1)

BloodyIron (939359) | more than 5 years ago | (#27197689)

I could see this technology useful for datacenters. However, considering the source I am hesitant to believe it was developed for such a honest purpose.

Old tech, new coat of paint (1)

MasterNetHead (920728) | more than 5 years ago | (#27198695)

Isn't this just a fancy version of a laser scanner used to more efficiently keep tabs on Joe Citizen?

"structured light illumination" New? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27200079)

structured light illumination is older than the internet. They can't patent it.

A contour model extraction (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27207101)

Haven't seen the illustrations but it appears on the surface (hah) that they are using a combination of well-known structured light technique to create 3d model of the hand. Then they do a mapping from 3D to 2D so they can fit legacy fingerprint databases presumably. Would be mind-numbing but they fit your fingers into little slots. But it should be realized that this can easily be mapping the entire hand not just fingertips, and doing it at a subsurface level i.e. blood vessels. And.. the next step sorry to say would be to add a simple cell or blood sampling device. Your hand will be immobilized. Personally I detest this whole thing.

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