The researchers created the first three-dimensional model of a human fingerprint, which is expected to greatly improve matching technology.
A large amount of this biometric technology is used for access into buildings, cash registers and even into the new iPhone.
The new fingerprint matching technology also could be useful in recording fingerprints and palm prints while booking criminals following arrest, said Gregoire Michaud , the director of Michigan State Police Forensic Science Division.
“Improving the accuracy of those systems will keep anybody from slipping through the cracks identity-wise,” Michaud said.
The team of MSU researchers calls the model a phantom because it has known characteristics and precise dimensions and measurements.
Phantoms often are used in medical imaging when testing out new MRI or CT scan machines to make sure they are perfectly calibrated before putting humans inside, computer science doctoral student Sunpreet Arora said.
Arora and visiting researcher Kai Cao assisted lead researcher computer science and engineering professor Anil Jain in creating the phantom, which was funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology , Jain said.
Because fingerprint technology has remained an ever-present tactic in investigations since its discovery, Jain said many people assume it cannot be improved.
“Sometimes people think that because fingerprint systems have been available for 30-40 years that the fingerprint matching is a solved problem,” Jain said. “There are still many challenging problems in fingerprint matching.”
Michaud said MSU is ahead of the game in research.
“The whole use of biometric authentication and biometric access is still pretty new so the research being done at Michigan State University is cutting edge,” Michaud said.