Our fingerprints are what make us unique — but they’re also home to a world of information hidden in molecules that reveal our actions, lifestyles and routines. In this riveting talk, chemist Simona Francese shows how she studies these microscopic traces using mass spectrometry, a technology that analyzes fingerprints in previously impossible detail, and demonstrates how this cutting-edge forensic science can help police catch criminals.
Researchers in Japan have been able to “copy” fingerprint data from a digital photo of a person holding up a peace sign.
This research is surely going to raise questions over the potential theft of fingerprint data through photos. Currently, many smartphones, laptops, and tablets feature some sort of biometric finger scanner that allows the user to unlock their devices without a password. This research will most certainly be discovered by those who seek to steal identities and that should worry all of us.
The researchers took a high-resolution photo at 3 meters with a 135mm lens on an SLR camera of a person flashing the “peace” sign. While these were controlled parameters, it still shows that it is possible to extract this data from a high-quality image. Cameras and imaging equipment have become much more powerful and it’s entirely possible to catch a good quality image of fingers from a further distance.