The basics of traditional fingerprinting techniques are simple. The skin on the palmar surface of the arms and legs forms protrusions, the so-called papillary ridges, patterns that are unique to each person and do not change over time. Even identical twins (with a common DNA) do not exhibit identical fingerprints.
The deliberate recording of friction ridges is usually done with black printer ink scrolled over a contrasting white background, usually a white card. Friction ridges can also be recorded digitally using biometrics, in which a digital image capture mechanism works beneath the surface, a technique called live scan.
Live scan has been prominently used to record fingerprint images as it is not only fast and convenient but also records images in digital format. Digitization makes it possible to perform all kinds of operations such as indexing, sorting, matching, storage, and transmission over a network (such as the internet).
There is a long list of advantages that live scan fingerprinting systems offers; however, they also have some limitations as most digital technology-based systems do. It is always advantageous to explore the limits of the live scan systems and that is what biometric security experts as well as independent researchers have been doing – pushing live scan systems to their limits.
One such experiment that has been conducted by an independent researcher is – Are live scan systems able to read or detect masked fingerprints? Let’s find out what were the outcomes.
What are masked fingerprints?
Fingerprint masking refers to the process of obscuring or hiding a person’s fingerprints in order to protect their privacy or to prevent their identification. There are various ways in which a person’s fingerprints can be masked, including using gloves, applying a substance to the fingerprints, or using a physical device to distort the fingerprint.
There have been incidents in the past in which individuals have tried medical surgery to avoid deportation from a country they had illegally entered.
Fingerprints can be intentionally or unintentionally masked by a layer of material that may or may not temporarily deteriorate or mask the natural characteristics of fingerprints that they exhibit otherwise. For example, if you apply a thin layer of transparent glue or wet silicone on your fingertip and dry it off, you have just masked your fingerprints.
Another example of fingerprint masking is the use of gloves, which can be worn to prevent fingerprints from being left behind on surfaces. This can be useful in certain situations such as when handling evidence in a forensic investigation to avoid contamination. However, it is important to note that gloves can also leave behind other types of evidence such as fibers or sweat that may be useful in an investigation.
Fingerprint masking can also be done with the use of a substance that is transparent and can form a layer on the friction ridges, such as a chemical or adhesive, to obscure the fingerprint. This can be done by applying the substance to the fingertips or by using a physical device, such as a stamp or roller, to apply a layer of substance to the fingerprint. While this method may be effective at obscuring the fingerprint, it can also be time-consuming and may leave behind other types of evidence.
Overall, fingerprint masking can be a useful tool for protecting privacy or preventing identification in certain situations. However, it is important to be aware of the limitations and potential risks of using these methods.
Latent overlapped fingerprints
Latent overlapped fingerprints are fingerprints that are partially obscured or obscured by another fingerprint. This can happen when two individuals leave their fingerprints on the same surface, and the second individual’s fingerprint partially or completely covers the first individual’s fingerprint. In these cases, it can be challenging to extract and analyze both fingerprints, as the latent overlapped fingerprint may contain information from both individuals.
Latent overlapped fingerprints can be found in a variety of settings, including crime scenes, where they can be used as evidence to identify suspects or witnesses. In order to extract and analyze latent overlapped fingerprints, forensic examiners may use a variety of techniques, including fingerprint powders, chemical development, and imaging technologies. These techniques can help to highlight the latent overlapped fingerprint and make it easier to extract and analyze the individual fingerprints.
It is important to note that latent overlapped fingerprints can be more difficult to analyze than other types of latent fingerprints, as they may contain a mix of information from multiple individuals. However, with the right tools and techniques, forensic examiners can often extract and analyze latent overlapped fingerprints in order to identify individuals and gather important evidence.
Techniques to extract and analyze latent overlapped fingerprints
In order to extract and analyze latent overlapped fingerprints, forensic examiners may use a variety of techniques, including fingerprint powders, chemical development, and imaging technologies. These techniques can help to highlight the latent overlapped fingerprint and make it easier to extract and analyze the individual fingerprints.
One common method for analyzing latent overlapped fingerprints is to use fingerprint powders, which can help to highlight the ridges and patterns in the fingerprint. Forensics examiners may apply a fine layer of fingerprint powder to the surface where the latent overlapped fingerprint is located, and then use a brush or other tool to gently lift the fingerprint from the surface.
Chemical development is another technique that can be used to extract latent overlapped fingerprints. This process involves applying a chemical solution to the surface where the latent fingerprint is located, which can help to highlight the fingerprint and make it easier to extract and analyze.
Imaging technologies, such as laser scanners and 3D scanners, can also be used to extract and analyze latent overlapped fingerprints. These technologies can capture high-resolution images of the fingerprint, which can then be used to extract and analyze individual fingerprints.
Overall, latent overlapped fingerprints can be more difficult to analyze than other types of latent fingerprints, as they may contain a mix of information from multiple individuals. However, with the right tools and techniques, forensic examiners can often extract and analyze latent overlapped fingerprints in order to identify individuals and gather important evidence.
Can live scan detect masked fingerprints?
Live scan is a technology that uses digital scanners to capture and record fingerprints electronically. These scanners use a variety of techniques to acquire high-quality fingerprint images, including capturing multiple images at different angles and using advanced image processing algorithms to enhance the quality of the image.
In general, live scan systems are designed to be very accurate and can detect a wide range of features in a fingerprint image, including ridge patterns, minutiae points, and other details that are used to identify individuals. However, it is important to note that the accuracy of a live scan system can be affected by a variety of factors, including the quality of the fingerprint image, the condition of the scanner, and the software being used to process the image.
It is possible that a live scan system could be unable to detect certain features in a masked fingerprint image, depending on how the masking was implemented. If certain parts of the fingerprint image are obscured or disguised in a way that significantly affects the overall quality or clarity of the image, it could make it more difficult for the live scan system to accurately capture and record the fingerprint. In general, however, live scan systems are able to detect and record a wide range of features in a fingerprint image, even if some parts of the image are masked or obscured.
In an experiment conducted by an independent researcher, it was observed that the fingerprint images of masked fingerprints captured using a live scan system were found to be of poor quality. The researcher used different materials such as nail polish of different colors (including transparent nail polish), clear Elmer’s glue, whiteout, etc.
The researcher first applied a single layer of different substances individually to test the outcome of a live scan capture. Masking fingerprints with a single layer of the masking substance was enough to deteriorate the fingerprint image quality captured using a live scan system. The image quality of masked fingerprints further deteriorated as more layers of the masking substance were applied.
The experiment proved that the live scan systems cannot detect usable quality fingerprints when a making substance is applied to the fingerprints.
Today’s live scan systems are highly advanced equipment that is designed to capture and record high-quality fingerprint images quickly and accurately. These systems are used in a variety of settings, including law enforcement agencies, border control points, and other locations where it is important to accurately identify individuals based on their fingerprints.
While live scan systems can detect and record a wide range of features in a fingerprint image, the accuracy of the system may be affected by the presence of a mask or other obscuring elements in the image. In order to get the most accurate and reliable results, it is important to ensure that the fingerprint image is of high quality and that any masking or obscuring elements are minimized.