Thursday, May 07, 2009

New Technology Further Automates Fingerprint Identification

by blogger cnt

We've all seen CSI. Investigators find a fingerprint at a crime scene, scan it into the computer and seconds later, voila! A single, perfect match...except we know that's not really how it works. In reality, before a print can be entered into IAFIS or a similar system, a fingerprint examiner must first mark out the distinguishing features of the print. The system will then return numerous results that must be manually examined by the fingerprint specialist.

Now, a new technology has the potential to automate the first part of the procedure. Scientists at NIST are currently testing Automatic Feature Extraction and Matching (AFEM) software prototypes being developed by eight different vendors.

The AFEM software extracted the distinguishing features of the latent prints, then compared them against 100,000 fingerprints. For each print the software provided a list of 50 candidates that the fingerprint specialists compared by hand. Most identities were found within the top 10.

...Results ranged from nearly 100 percent for the most accurate product to around 80 percent for the last three listed.

Will this technology really be able to reliably replace human fingerprint examiners in identifying distinguishing points on a fingerprint? Only time will tell, but it's definitely something to watch.