NIST Study Published Today Measures Performance Accuracy Of Contactless Fingerprint Scanning Technologies

NIST evaluated several commercially available contactless fingerprint scanning technologies in its May 2020 report. Courtesy/N. Hanacek/NIST

NIST News:

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has evaluated several commercially available contactless fingerprint scanning technologies, allowing users to compare their performance to conventional devices that require physical contact between a person’s fingers and the scanner.

The results of the study, published today as NIST Interagency Report (NISTIR) 8307: Interoperability Assessment 2019: Contactless-to-Contact Fingerprint Capture, show that devices requiring physical contact remain superior to contactless technology at matching scanned prints to images in a database.

However, when contactless devices scan multiple fingers on a hand, it improves their performance. Contactless devices that scanned multiple fingers also seldom made “false positive” errors that incorrectly matched one person’s print with another’s record.

The publication updates NIST’s July 2018 study on contactless capture and is intended to assist organizations that use fingerprint-scanning technology. 

“The report summarizes the state of the art of contactless fingerprint scanning,” said John Libert, one of the report’s authors. “It can help anyone interested in adopting contactless technology to evaluate the cost in performance they might pay by switching to contactless fingerprint capture.”

Fingerprint identification devices, which capture scans of prints intended to be matched against those stored in a database, can find use in buildings and at borders. Conventional devices typically require physical contact with an individual’s fingertips, but there is growing interest in technology that does not, in part because it might work faster and with less need for trained operators. It also might be more hygienic, an advantage the COVID-19 pandemic highlights, though the NIST study — which does not examine hygiene — predates the appearance of the virus.