Biometrics Palm Vein Scanner Technology

Contact-less Hygienic Accurate Secure Time Attendance Access Control Systems

Why Biometrics?   |    Classification of biometrics   |    Issues

The Basis of Palm Vein Technology

Palm Vein Technology -
highly secure (Credit: Fujitsu)


An individual first rests his wrist, and on some devices, the middle of his fingers, on the sensor's supports such that the palm is held centimeters above the device's scanner, which flashes a near-infrared ray on the palm. Unlike the skin, through which near-infrared light passes, deoxygenated hemoglobin in the blood flowing through the veins absorbs near-infrared rays, illuminating the hemoglobin, causing it to be visible to the scanner. Arteries and capillaries, whose blood contains oxygenated hemoglobin, which does not absorb near-infrared light, are invisible to the sensor. The still image captured by the camera, which photographs in the near-infrared range, appears as a black network, reflecting the palm's vein pattern against the lighter background of the palm.

An individual's palm vein image is converted by algorithms into data points, which is then compressed, encrypted, and stored by the software and registered along with the other details in his profile as a reference for future comparison. Then, each time a person logs in attempting to gain access by a palm scan to a particular bank account or secured entryway, etc., the newly captured image is likewise processed and compared to the registered one or to the bank of stored files for verification, all in a period of seconds. Numbers and positions of veins and their crossing points are all compared and, depending on verification, the person is either granted or denied access.

How Secure is the Technology?

On the basis of testing the technology on more than 70,000 individuals, Fujitsu declared that the new system had a false rejection rate of 0.01% (i.e., only one out of 10,000 scans were incorrect denials for access), and a false acceptance rate of less than 0.00008% (i.e., incorrect approval for access in one in over a million scans). Also, if your profile is registered with your right hand, don't log in with your left - the patterns of an individual's two hands differ. And if you registered your profile as a child, it'll still be recognized as you grow, as an individual's patterns of veins are established in utero (before birth). No two people in the world share a palm vein pattern - even those of identical twins differ (so your evil twin won't be able to draw on your portion of the inheritance!)

Potential Applications

Palm vein access control
unit (Credit: Fujitsu)
The new technology has many potential applications (some of which are already in use) such as an ultra secure system for ATMs and banking transactions, a PC, handheld, or server login system, an authorization system for front doors, schools, hospital wards, storage areas, and high security areas in airports, and even facilitating library lending, doing away with the age-old library card system. Fujitsu is planning to continue the development of the palm vein technology, shrinking the scanner to fit a mobile phone. Fujitsu hopes that its success might usher in a new age in personal data protection techniques, which is especially important when sales of Smartphones and other handhelds are skyrocketing.

 Mr. H. Watanuki of Fujitsu's Biometric Business Development Department about the application of their palm vein technology.


Q: Is there currently a retail product on the market that uses your technology?
A: Yes. Some Japanese banks have adopted our palm vein authentication technology on their ATMs (e.g., Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi).


Palm Vein Technology -
on an ATM (Credit: Fujitsu)
Q: When do you expect that commercial end-user products (such as personal computer biometric systems and door-lock mechanisms) based on your technology will be available on the global market?
Fujitsu has globally released an SDK (software development kit or "devkit") for palm vein technology since April, 2006. We do hope that some vendors will soon develop related products using our SDK, including the ones you have described.
  :: Why Biometrics?
Biometrics authenticates and determines an individual’s identity by utilizing the uniqueness of his or her biological and behavioral characteristics. Other authentication methods often used are PIN method and Token (ID Card) method. Biometrics is superior to PIN or Token methods in the following ways:

1) Increased Security
Biometrics offers superior security than PIN or ID Card. Biometric methods do not involve danger of information exposure like PIN and ID Card do and unauthorized persons cannot attempt to steal or make a guess at private information.

2) Increased Convenience
Today, people have to remember many passwords. They should be able to provide their passwords whenever they use their credit cards or log into various sites on the Internet. Uniform passwords can lead to serious dangers if exposed. However, biometrics does not require us to remember our passwords.
 :: Classification of Biometrics
An individual's vein pattern image is captured by radiating his/her hand with near-infrared rays. The reflection method illuminates the palm using an infrared ray and captures the light given off by the region after diffusion through the palm. The deoxidized hemoglobin in the in the vein vessels absorbs the infrared ray, thereby reducing the reflection rate and causing the veins to appear as a black pattern. This vein pattern is then verified against a preregistered pattern to authenticate the individual.

Biometrics can be classified according to the type of biometric data used, e.g., face, iris, voice, signature, or hand geometry identification. However, all these methods take the same authentication process. The biometric authentication process is as described below:

The pattern of blood veins is unique to every individual, even among identical twins. Palms have a broad and complicated vascular pattern and thus contain a wealth of differentiating features for personal identification. Furthermore, it will not vary during the person's lifetime. It is a very secure method of authentication because this blood vein pattern lies under the skin. This makes it almost impossible for others to read or copy.

As veins are internal in the body and have a wealth of differentiating features, attempts to forge an identity are extremely difficult, thereby enabling a high level of security. In addition, the sensor of the palm vein device can only recognize the pattern if the deoxidized hemoglobin is actively flowing within the individual's veins.

This system is not dangerous, a near infrared is a component of sunlight: there is no more exposure when scanning the hand than by walking outside in the sun.

Among all available biometric technologies, fingerprint identification is the most popular one. This is due to the fact that fingerprint identification is far more efficient than others, especially considering how economical it is.

::  Issues
1) Standardization
Active efforts are being made to standardize various core biometric technologies mainly available in the U.S. and Europe. Major standardization methods for biometric identifications are as follows:
This standard was developed by I/O Software in 1998. Being O/S, computer platform, and sensor device independent, it was designed to support the development of applications. Some of the features include the unification of encryption method, standardized programming environment, and support for the client-server applications.

This method was first introduced in December 1997 at the 10th U.S. Biometric Consortium held by National Registry Inc. a company sponsored by the U.S. Ministry of National Defense. Thinking that biometrics would be useful in computer security, the U.S. Ministry of National Defense supported the development. However, they failed to secure companies to work on the project.

c) BioAPI
Compaq was the first company to form BioAPI Consortium, which consisted of 6 companies with a goal to standardize industrial biometric identification API in April 1998. In December of the same year, and in March the following year, BAPI and HA-API were included in new BioAPI. BioAPI Consortium was constituted by various groups, including 78 companies who are biometric identification developers and medical/financial/ governmental users. BioAPI has recently been adopted as ANSI/INCITS 358, American standard.
2) Multimodal Biometrics
There has been heated researches made to have multimodal biometrics be a method that overcomes the limitations of unimodal biometric technologies. Multimodal biometrics is recommended as a way to improve user authentication through biometrics of greater reliability.
a) Multiple Sensors
A single biometric feature can be extracted through different sensors. For instance, we can use optics-, ultrasound-, and semiconductor-based sensors.

b) Multiple Biometrics
A number of biometric features can be captured simultaneously for authentication. For example, facial and fingerprint identification can be used at the same time. However, this method is not recommended due to its high cost.

c) Multiple Units of the Same Biometric
Various units can be used for one biometric feature. Multiple units can often be provided by natural human physical structure such as through the user’s two irises and ten fingerprints. A disadvantage to this method is that it can make a user uncomfortable when capturing his or her biometric feature samples. The process can also take a long time.

d) Mu tiple Instances
This means that pieces of biometric information of one feature are taken at different instances by one sensor. One example of this method is to capture a fingerprint a number of times with a sensor or to sample a voice or a face multiple times for later use.

e) Multiple Representation and Matching Algorithms for the Same Biometric Input Signal
Multimodal biometrics requires more time to work with the information and develop an appropriate system than a unimodal biometrics does since several modules are put in use. For that reason, if a unimodal method can assure the users of high enough dependability in a given circumstance, it may not be necessary to employ a multimodal biometric method. If the greatest degree of reliability is required, however, it may become necessary to adopt a multimodal biometric method in order to ensure any possible advancement.

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