Touchless Fingerprinting Technology
Fingerprint image acquisition is considered the most critical step of an automated fingerprint authentication system, as it determines the final fingerprint image quality, which has drastic effects on the overall system performance.
When a finger touches or rolls onto a surface, the elastic skin deforms. The quantity and direction of the pressure applied by the user, the skin conditions, and the projection of an irregular 3D object (the finger) onto a 2D flat plane introduce distortions, noise, and inconsistencies on the captured fingerprint image. These problems have been indicated as inconsistent, irreproducible, and nonuniform contacts and, during each acquisition, their effect on the same fingerprint is different and uncontrollable. Hence, the representation of the same fingerprint changes every time the finger is placed on the sensor platen, increasing the complexity of fingerprint matching and representing a negative influence on system performance with a consequent limited spread of this biometric technology.
Recently, a new approach to capture fingerprints has been proposed. This approach, referred to as touchless or contactless fingerprinting, tries to overcome the above-cited problems. Because of the lack of contact between the finger and any rigid surface, the skin does not deform during the capture and the repeatability of the measure is ensured.
However, this technology introduces new challenges. For example, due to the curvature of the finger and the nonnull distance between the camera and the finger, the useful captured fingerprint area is reduced and the capture of rolled-equivalent fingerprints becomes very difficult. Moreover, finger positioning, lower image contrast, illumination, and user convenience still must be addressed.
In this chapter, an overview of this novel capturing approach and its advantages and disadvantages with respect to the legacy technology are highlighted. Capturing techniques using more than one camera or combining cameras and mirrors, referred to as 3D touchless fingerprinting, are here presented together with a new threedimensional representation of fingerprints and minutiae. Vulnerability and weaknesses of touchless fingerprinting are also addressed, because fake-detection results in a very critical problem for this technology.
KeywordsFingerprint Image Biometric Technology Skin Deformation Liveness Detection Valley Structure
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