Michigan State creates first 3-D fingerprint

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A team of computer scientists at Michigan State University has built the first three-dimensional model of a human fingerprint using a 3-D printer, the university recently announced.

The hope is that the development will help in today’s fingerprint-matching technology used by law enforcement organizations as well as lead to improvements in security.

Anil Jain, a distinguished professor of computer science and engineering at the school, led the research. He was joined by a team of students and professors from Michigan State along with Nick Paulter, a research collaborator with the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The project developed a method that takes a two-dimensional image of a fingerprint and maps it to a 3-D finger surface, complete with all the ridges and valleys that make fingers prints unique thanks to the 3-D printer.

It creates what Jain’s team called a fingerprint phantom.

Imaging phantoms are common in the world of medical imaging. For example, to make sure an MRI machine or a CT scanner is working properly, it needs to first image an object of known dimensions and material properties.

“In health care, a 3-D heart or kidney can be created,” Jain said. “Because the dimensions are known, they can be put into a scanner and the imaging system can be calibrated.”

In this case, the ultimate goal is to have a precise fingerprint model with known properties and features that can be used to calibrate existing technology used to match fingerprints.

“When I have this 3-D fingerprint phantom, I know its precise measurements,” Jain said. “And because I know the true dimensions of the fingerprint features on this phantom, I can better evaluate fingerprint readers.”

The work is funded by a grant from the Measurement Science Program at NIST.

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Michigan, States
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