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Linking Important Information to Fingerprints

Anil Jain and Finger Print Machine

For more than 100 years, fingerprints have been used for personal identification. While early applications were limited to law enforcement and forensics, automated fingerprint identification systems are now used in a variety of settings, from unlocking personal devices to securing national borders.

Over the past 25 years, MSU researcher Anil Jain’s seminal contributions have pushed the frontiers of biometrics—in particular, fingerprint recognition. A University Distinguished Professor, Jain is widely regarded as one of the world’s top biometrics researchers and holds six U.S. patents on fingerprint recognition, as well as a host of accolades. His work has generated a wealth of knowledge that has inspired a generation of biometrics researchers and practitioners in academia and industry.

“MSU has a lineage of work in biometrics,” Jain says. “When people want to hire someone in biometrics, they look at our lab first.”

Jain has worked on the security and privacy of fingerprint recognition systems by creating and evaluating spoof fingers, tracking fingerprints of infants to help save lives and assisting police agencies in solving crimes.

His current work, with Ph.D. student Josh Engelsma, centers on the ability to track fingerprints of individuals and infants for healthcare monitoring and welfare distributions in even the most remote places in the world. Called Match in Box, the portable, high-resolution fingerprint recognition kit features easy-to-use, cost-effective technology that requires a simple touch of a finger. Once the fingerprint is collected, it is stored in the box and linked to a person’s identity and health records. With this information, Match in Box can help with vaccination tracking, healthcare and food, and benefits distribution programs.

Match in Box is an intentionally open source, meaning the technology, set-up, and off-the-shelf hardware components are all made public, so people everywhere have the tools to make their own low-cost Match in Box.

“We are providing tools for everyone to build [fingerprint] readers, and to get the mystery out of it,” Jain says.

Biometrics is becoming an increasingly common, and critical, component of our daily lives, and some of the nation’s foremost biometrics researchers at Michigan State University are leading exploration into applications that could make lives better by detecting health issues, preventing identity theft and enhancing security.

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