Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Fingerprint Ultrasound

PostedNovember 1, 2015

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Anchor Lede: Fingerprint sensors on smartphones are convenient, but they don’t always work and, worse, can be fooled.

Randy Atkins: It’s been demonstrated that fingerprints can be copied using printers…and those images can unlock a phone says David Horsley, a University of California engineering professor. Less sinister, but annoying, is when your own finger doesn’t work because…

David Horsley: …oil or water gets into the valleys of your finger and it basically makes the fingerprint unreadable.

Randy Atkins: So Horsley is developing a sensor that uses ultrasound.

David Horsley: We can take an image at the surface of your finger or we can go a little bit deeper and one of the virtues of that is that we can image structures that are beneath the surface of the finger

Randy Atkins: Such 3D images of sub-surface patterns would obviously avoid issues of damp or dirty fingers, but also provide an added layer of identification and be very hard to spoof. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.