Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Rewriting Life

Vein Check

Fingerprint scanners may seem the ultimate in identification technology, but tricking them is actually not all that hard.

Fingerprint scanners may seem the ultimate in identification technology, but tricking them is actually not all that hard. Now, scanning the pattern of veins on the back of the hand promises a more reliable system.

Vein recognition is already used in South Korea and Japan to control access to secure rooms in hospitals, factories, and office buildings. System manufacturers say each person has a unique vein pattern, which can be captured by infrared cameras. The technology has been more widely accepted than fingerprinting in Asia mainly for cultural reasons, says Michelle Shen of ePolymath Consulting in Toronto. “In Japan, they are very concerned about hygiene. They’re reluctant with fingerprinting because they have to touch the sensor.” With vein recognition, users merely hold their hands up to a scanner.

A second generation of the technology is coming to North America. In 2003, Seoul, South Korea-based Techsphere, one of the first and largest vein recognition companies, signed a deal authorizing Toronto-based Identica to distribute its products in North America. Identica recently sold seven units to the Toronto and Ottawa airports to control ground crew admittance through doors. “Their hands aren’t always clean, and that would give false readings all the time with fingerprinting,” says Edward Foster, president and chief operating officer of Opus Canada, a flight services provider to the Toronto airport.

This story is part of our December 2003/January 2004 Issue
See the rest of the issue
Subscribe

Vein recognition is so new to North America that there hasn’t yet been much independent testing of the technology, leading to skepticism from some experts. The adequacy of the approach has yet to be established through third-party testing, says Larry Hornak, director of the Center for Identification Technology Research at West Virginia University. But with more testing, perhaps more people will be checking their veins at the door.

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.

Subscribe today
More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Online Only.
  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.