An Indian-American scientist has developed the first 3-D model of a human fingerprint, an advance that could improve the accuracy of fingerprint-matching systems and security technology.
Anil Jain, from Michigan State University, and colleagues developed a method that maps a two-dimensional image of a fingerprint to a 3-D finger surface.
The 3-D finger surface, together with all the ridges and valleys in the human fingerprint, is made using a 3-D printer. It creates what Jain's colleagues call a fingerprint 'phantom'.
Imaging phantoms are common in the field of medical imaging. For instance, to ensure proper operation of an MRI machine or a CT scanner, it is first checked by using it on an object of known dimensions and material properties.
According to Jain, in health care, a 3-D heart or kidney can be created as the dimensions are known, which can be entered into a scanner to calibrate the imaging system.
The ultimate goal in this case, is to get a precise fingerprint model having known properties and features that could be used to calibrate existing technology used to match fingerprints.
According to commentators though the 3-D model does not quite have the feel of a real finger, it could advance fingerprint sensing and matching technology.
According to Jain, tools of the type could help improve the overall accuracy of fingerprint-matching systems, which could lead to better security in applications ranging from law enforcement to mobile phone unlock.
Jain, an alumnus of IIT Kanpur has MS and PhD degrees from Ohio State University. He has six US patents on fingerprint matching and has authored several books on biometrics and fingerprint/facial recognition.
Jain's contribution to pattern recognition and biometrics has won him a number of prestigious awards.
(See: 3-D fingerprint phantoms improve fingerprint-matching technology)