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Contactless fingerprint scanners assessed by US Department of Homeland Security

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has begun working with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to evaluate the results from trials using contactless fingerprint verification technology.

The proof-of-concept tests involve assessing the effectiveness of touch-free scanners, developed by Advanced Optical Systems, which allow a traveler’s fingerprints to serve as their boarding pass and identity document.

Use of the technology is currently limited to TSA Pre members, who provide their fingerprints when they enroll in the program. Once the scanner matches fingerprints to those in the TSA Pre system, it obtains the traveler’s boarding pass information and allows them to continue to their gate.

Arun Vemury, program manager, S&T Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency, said, “A biometric process can actually be faster than scanning tickets and can identify travelers automatically with few errors. However, performance depends dramatically on the choice of technology and process.

“Failure to acquire biometrics can be a major source of error for biometric systems, especially those serving hurried travelers who may not understand how to present their biometrics properly,” he added.

The proof-of-concept assessment is based on the results of trials taking place at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Georgia, USA, and Denver International Airport in Colorado.

While contact-based fingerprint technology has existed for some time, non-contact fingerprinting is still relatively new, so rigorous evaluation is needed to determine its effectiveness and impact on how passengers move through security.

Speaking about the trials, one of the evaluators said, “Based on prior data collected at the Maryland Test Facility, we developed specific classes of use errors associated with fingerprint biometrics. Two of these include incorrect hand positioning and improper hand movement and speed. Our field observations with actual travelers were very similar to our simulated scenario tests in the lab.”

Written by Daniel Symonds

August 16, 2017


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