Fingerprint Identification

Fingerprint identification is the method of identification based on the different patterns of human fingers, which is unique among each person. It is the most popular way of acquiring details of any person and is the easiest and convenient way of identifying a person. An advantage of the fingerprint identification method is that the fingerprints pattern remains the same for a person throughout his/her life, making it an infallible method of human identification. The study of fingerprint identification is Dactyloscopy.

Defining fingerprints:

The skin surface of any human finger consists of a pattern of dark lines of ridges along with white lines or valleys between them. The ridges’ structures changes at points known as minutiae and can be either bifurcated or of short length or two ridges can end on a single point. These details or patterns are unique in every human being. The flow of these ridges, their features, the intricate details of ridges and their sequence is what defines the information for fingerprint identification.

Different ridge patterns are as given below:

FingerPrint pattern
FingerPrint pattern

Finger patterns can be divided into 3 groups as shown below

  •  Arches: Ridges enter and exit on same sides
Plain Arch
Plain Arch
  • Loops: Ridges enter on one side and exit on a different side

Finger print cir

  • Whorls:  It consists of circles or a mixture of pattern types.

Finger print circuit

Obtaining Fingerprints:

There are two ways of obtaining latent prints or fingerprints

  • Using chemical methods:  Spraying the surface with black powder can reveal the fingerprint patterns which can then be lifted using clear tape. Different chemicals like cyanoacrylate (which can develop fingerprints on a variety of objects), Ninhydrin (which bonds with amino acids present in fingerprints, producing a blue or purple color) can be used. Also, the magnetic powder can be used to reveal fingerprints and works on shiny surfaces or plastic bags or containers.
  • Using Automatic Identification method: The fingerprint images can be acquired using different sensors. Examples are Capacitive sensors which obtain pixel value based on the capacitance of the fingerprint characteristics as each character like a finger ridge has different capacitance, optical sensors which use prisms to detect a change in reflectance of light by each characteristic and thermal scanners which measure the difference in temperature over time to create a digital image.

Fingerprint identification Process:

Basically, digital imaging technology is used in acquiring, storing and analyzing the fingerprint data.

  • Acquiring Images:   As explained above, different sensors can be used to obtain fingerprint digital images. The fingerprint scanner consists of an optical scanner or a capacitance scanner. The optical scanner consists of the charge-coupled device which consists of light-sensitive diodes that give electric signals when eliminated. The tiny dots representing the light that hit the spot are recorded as pixels and the array of pixels from the image. When we place our finger on a glass plate or monitor the surface, the camera takes the picture by illuminating the ridges of the finger.

The left image given below shows the whole structure of the fingerprint acquisition using an optical scanner and the right image is the real-time example of the system.

Finger identi

Storing the images:  The acquired image is then processed using digital image processing techniques as explained below:

  • Image Segmentation: The acquired image tends to contain unwanted features along with the relevant features. To remove this, thresholding based on the variance of each pixel in the image is done. The pixels having intensity (gray level value) greater than the threshold are considered whereas the pixels having intensity lesser than the threshold are eliminated.
  • Image Normalization: Each pixel in the image has a different mean-variance. Hence to obtain a uniform pattern, normalization is done, so that the image pixels are in the desired range of gray values.
  • Image Orientation: It defines forming the image based on ridge orientation at each point. It is done by calculating the gradient of each pixel at x and y directions and then calculating the orientation by determining the average of vector orthogonal to the gradient.
  • Constructing the frequency image: It is done to determine the local frequency (rate of occurrence) of ridges. It is done by projecting the gray values of each pixel along with the direction perpendicular to the ridge orientation and then calculating the number of pixels between consecutive minimums in the waveform, which correspond to the ridges. Another way is using the Fourier transform technique.
  • Image Filtering: It is done to remove unwanted noise. It is done either using a Gabor filter or a Butterworth filter. A basic way is convolving the image with the filter.
  • Image Binarisation: The filtered image is then converted to a binary image using the thresholding technique, to improve the contrast. It is based on global thresholding, i.e. pixel value greater than the threshold is set to 1 and pixel value less than, is set to 0.
  • Image thinning: It is done to eliminate foreground pixels until they are one pixel wide. It preserves the connectivity of the ridges.

Analyzing the Images:  It involves extracting the minutiae details from the processed image and then comparing them with the already stored image patterns in the database. Minutiae extraction is done by calculating the crossing number or half of the sum of differences between pairs of pixels in an eight connected neighborhood (eight connected means a pixel surrounded by eight pixels). The cross number gives a unique identification for each fingerprint characteristic.

The acquired image along with the extracted details are then compared with the existing details in the databases which can be print or palm print records, for matching and if images or the details match, the person is identified.  The system provides a list of the closest matching fingerprint images from the print database and the results are verified to determine if an identification is made.

Advantages of Fingerprint Identification:

  • It is highly accurate
  • It is unique and can never be the same for two persons.
  • It is the most economical technique.
  • It is easy to use
  • Use of small storage space

Applications of Fingerprint Identification:

  • To identify criminals in crime scenes. It was one of the major reasons for the development of this technology by the FBI in the USA.
  • To identify members of an organization. It helps improves security such that only authenticated persons can enter the secured area and not any other members.
  • In Grocery stores to automatically recognize and bill a registered user’s credit card or debit card.

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So, this is a brief idea about Finger Print Identification. Any further inputs like details about the processing techniques or on the electrical and electronic projects are welcome to be discussed…

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