Another Biometric: Vein Patterns
In fact, vein recognition technology has one fundamental advantage over finger print systems: vein patterns in fingers and palms are biometric characteristics that are not left behind unintentionally in every-day activities. In tests conducted by heise, even extreme close-ups of a palm taken with a digital camera, whose RAW format can be filtered systematically to emphasize the near-infrared range, were unable to deliver a clear reproduction of the line pattern. With the transluminance method used by Hitachi it is practically impossible to read out the pattern unnoticed with today’s technology. Another side effect of near-infrared imaging also has relevance to security: vein patterns of inanimate bodily parts become useless after few minutes, due to the increasing deoxidisation of the tissue.
Even if someone manages to obtain a person’s vein pattern, there is no known method for creating a functioning dummy, as is the case for finger prints, where this can be achieved even with home-made tools, as demonstrated by the german computer magazine c’t. As in the case with vendors of finger print systems, Hitachi and Fujitsu do not disclose information on liveness detection methods used in their products.
Besides the considerably improved forgery protection, the vendors of vein recognition technology claim further advantages. Compared to finger print sensors, vein recognition systems are said to deliver false rejection rates (FRR) two orders below that of finger print systems when operating at a comparable false acceptance rate (FAR). This can be ascribed to the basic structure of vein patterns having a much higher degree of variability than finger prints.
This is all interesting. I don’t know about the details of the technology, but the discussions of false positives, false negatives, and forgeability are the right ones to have. Remember, though, that while biometrics are an effective security technology, they’re not a panacea.