How fingerprint scanners work

Most of the users may already be familiar with mobile device fingerprint security feature, but not everyone knows on what basis and how exactly this system works. Therefore, we decided to make a detailed review of this new generation security standard and it’s reliability. Fingerprint scanning technology has moved on a lot since it was invented. Nevertheless, this technology has not spread that much like a video camera, which is built in every smartphone, tablet or laptop these days. It’s no doubt that in the near future a fingerprint scanning feature will be commonly used in mobile technologies for various software or services management. Nova days we are using 3 types of fingerprint scanners which we’d like to introduce. So lets start from the first one.

Optical fingerprint scanner

This is the first and oldest fingerprint scanning and recognition technology. As the name itself says, fingerprint image is captured by adding a finger on the optical scanner. Certain algorithms detects stamp tracks by analyzing darkest and the lightest areas of the image. In this way the whole structure of the fingerprint is being created. It’s kind the same as using macro feature on high quality phones camera, just by taking the image from the extremely close range. So the better optic lenses are used, the higher resolution of the fingerprint image is taken to ensure better security. The question is – how can the fingerprint pattern be captured if you cover whole optics light by putting finger on it. So it turns out that optical scanners also incorporate arrays of LEDs as a flash to light up the picture on scan time. Basically it works in the same way as capturing images in the dark using phone camera LED flash. This whole process is so fast that human eye can’t see it. Compared with the other, optical fingerprint technology design is a bit bulky to be build in compact or thin housing containing devices. The worst side with this technology is that optical scanners aren’t difficult to fool since fingerprint is captured in 2D. That kind of lock can be bypassed using prosthetic or another high quality fingerprint image. So it’s not regarded as very reliable lock, which often can be found in low budget devices.Optical fingerprint scanner

Capacitive fingerprint scanner

This technology is compact enough so it’s widely used in phones, laptop computers and other mobile devices. Tiny electromagnetic energy capacitor circuits to collect data about a fingerprint. That kind of energy flows from our body until we are alive. After fitting finger on the scanner surface, physical energy makes a stamp map which is recognized as pattern composition. The charge stored in the capacitor slightly changes when a finger reach conductive plates, while an air gap leaves the charge at the capacitor relatively unchanged. Whole fingerprint structure including it’s grooves is recorded by digital converter.
All this digital data can be analyzed to look for unique fingerprint structure details, which can be saved for a comparison at a later time. Capacitive scanner
is quite difficult to bypass, since it compares whole fingerprint structure including the depth of the groove lines and their location points. Fingerprint image is stored in a 360-degree angle, so you can put your finger in your convenient way and identification still occurs instantly.
In the past, similar technology was used in laptops. You had to swipe your finger over the narrow metal scanner plate so you can be recognized. This approach has not been sensitive and accurate enough, so now whole fingerprint pattern is matched by simply putting it on the surface.
Capacative fingerprint scanner

Ultrasonic fingerprint scanner

Latest and one of the most expensive technology, which just started being integrated in smartphones. The ultrasonic signal is flashed at the same time when the finger reaches the scanning area. Returning signal waves form a clear 3D image of the surface structure. Highly accurate identification can even distinguish its components, such as skin moisture or sweat concentrate. This kind of technology can operate directly through a variety of covering surfaces, such as metal, plastic or organic glass. The more times your finger is placed, the more accurate 3D image is saved for a latter recognition. Ultrasonic signal technology comes into devices mounted as a separate chip, operating independently from the software. Therefore, even hacking into a laptop or mobile phone software, no security information can be reached.

In time we will abandon all those necessary passwords which we keep in our head, because they will be replaced by fingerprint scanning technologies. Even the largest technology manufacturers declares that this type of personal information remains only in the device chip, which has no direct connection with software or the internet. No matter to what they say, we still think that it’s only a matter of time, when we will be great known in the places or in the websites we never would have thought we will be even recognized.

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