Contactless fingerprint scanning (almost) software at #connectID

Let me kick off this post by quoting from another post that I wrote:

I’ve always been of the opinion that technology is moving away from specialized hardware to COTS hardware. For example, the fingerprint processing and matching that used to require high-end UNIX computers with custom processor boards in the 1990s can now be accomplished on consumer-grade smartphones.

Further evidence of this was promoted in advance of #connectID by Integrated Biometrics.

And yes, for those following Integrated Biometrics’ naming conventions, there IS a 1970s movie called “Slap Shot,” but I don’t think it has anything to do with crime solving. Unless you count hockey “enforcers” as law enforcement. And the product apparently wasn’t named by Integrated Biometrics anyway.

But back to the product:

SlapShot supports the collection of Fingerprint and facial images suitable for use with state of the art matching algorithms. Fingerprints can now be captured by advanced software that enables the camera in your existing smart phones to generate images with a quality capable of precise identification. Facial recognition and metadata supplement the identification process for any potential suspect or person of interest.

This groundbreaking approach turns almost any smart phone into a biometric capture device, and with minimal integration, your entire force can leverage their existing smart phones to capture fingerprints for identification and verification, receiving matching results in seconds from a centralized repository.

Great, you say! But there’s one more thing. Two more things, actually:

SlapShot functions on Android devices that support Lollipop or later operating systems and relies on the device’s rear high-resolution camera. Images captured from the camera are automatically processed on the device in the background and converted into EBTS files. Once the fingerprint image is taken, the fingerprint matcher in the cloud returns results instantly.

The SlapShot SDK allows developers to capture contactless fingerprints and other biometrics within their own apps via calls to the SlapShot APIs.

Note that SlapShot is NOT intended for end users, but for developers to incorporate into existing applications. Also note that it is (currently) ONLY supported on Android, not iOS.

But this does illustrate the continuing move away from dedicated devices, including Integrated Biometrics’ own line of dedicated devices, to multi-use devices that can also perform forensic capture and perform or receive forensic matching results.

And no, Integrated Biometrics is not cannibalizing its own market. I say this for two reasons.

  1. First, there are still going to be customers who will want dedicated devices, for a variety of reasons.
  2. Second, if Integrated Biometrics doesn’t compete in the smartphone contactless fingerprint capture market, it will lose sales to the companies that DO compete in this market.

Contactless fingerprint capture has been pursued by multiple companies for years, ever since the NIST CRADA was issued a few years ago. (Integrated Biometrics’ partner Sciometrics was one of those early CRADA participants, along with others.) Actually this effort launched before that, as there were efforts in 2004 and following years to capture a complete set of fingerprints within 15 seconds; those efforts led, among other things, to the smartphone software we are seeing today. Not only from Integrated Biometrics/Sciometrics, but also from other CRADA participants. (Don’t forget this one.)

Of the CRADA partners, MorphoTrak is now IDEMIA, Diamond Fortress is now Telos ID, Hoyos Labs is now Veridium, AOS is no longer in operation, and 3M’s biometric holdings are now part of Thales. Slide 10 from the NIST presentation posted at https://www.nist.gov/system/files/documents/2016/12/14/iai_2016-nist_contactless_fingerprints-distro-20160811.pdf

Of course these smartphone capture software packages aren’t Electronic Biometric Transmission Specification (EBTS) Appendix F certified, but that’s another story entirely.

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