Printed Fingerprints Better for Forensics
Kyle Maxey posted on March 13, 2014 |

3D printing, fingerprint, michigan state, database, phantom, police, forensicsA group of researchers at Michigan State University have created the world’s first three-dimensional model of a human fingerprint.

As part of professor Anil Jain’s research, he and his colleagues have been developing algorithms that can take a 2 dimensional image of a fingerprint and transform it into an accurately rendered 3D surface.

Using a 3D printer, Jain and his team were able to create a facsimile of their 2D fingerprint scan, complete with all of the ridges and valley’s associated with our fingertip identifiers.

According to Jain, “Tools like [3D printing] would help improve the overall accuracy of fingerprint-matching systems, which eventually leads to better security in applications ranging from law enforcement to mobile phone unlock.”

Although Professor Jain admits that his 3D printed fingerprints don’t have the feeling or texture of the real thing, that’s hardly the point. In the end researchers are looking to create a “phantom” or master print that can be used as a baseline to improve fingerprint sensing and matching technology.

If Michigan State’s 3D fingerprinting technology meets its designer’s ambitions it could potentially produce the standard by which all fingerprints are analyzed in the future. Then again, it might also be the standard by which fake fingerprints are produced. So while it’s not yet known when Jain’s technology will be fully mature, it appears that the age-old game of security cat and mouse will continue.


Image Courtesy of the Michigan State University

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