DRAFT Study on biometrics in US Patent Literature.
By : Zeno Geradts
Date: 23 December 2002.
For the Netherlands Forensic Science Institute a study has been carried out for information in US patent literature on developments in biometrics.
For this research all patent applications and patents have been searched with US Patent Code 382/115-118 that cover biometrics devices for speech, handwriting, finger and hand-scans.
The survey has been limited to US Patents, since examination time is limited to several days. A paper more in depth on the forensic aspects of biometric devices is available at http://forensic.to/biometrie.pdf.
For the patent codes, we can see the following statistics for the number of patents in the database until 15 December 2002(which are classified by the US Codes):
For the fingerprint section, 381 patents were retrieved.
The examination of patents in more depth is limited to those that are relevant and describe a new way of use of biometrics. Furthermore attention is given on prevention of tampering with biometrics device. The patent survey is limited to 1997-2002 and includes the applications of patents.
Finger and palm prints
The assignees in the group of patents that have been examined were often small companies or individual inventors. Well-known companies as Toshiba, NEC, IBM, Sagem, Authentec and Digital Persona are included. A remarkable patent application is from the United States of America – the National Security Agency.
The company Authentec, which is a part of the Harris Corporation is specialized in OEM-products. The company Digital Persona has eight patents in this field and is focused on integration of finger print scanners. NEC is more focused on biometrics with smartcards, however there are also interesting patents in palm prints.
Several companies describe a total solution with encryption of the biometric data. Most card systems do not work with matching on the chip card, but with a separate computer (since processing power is limited on these chip cards).
The company Advanced Precision Technology in California has issued several patents on finger scanners by means of a laser or a Spatial Light Modulator.
Patent US5920640 describes a fingerprint scanner of Harris in which live detection is integrated.
Patent US6091838 of E.L. Specialists describes a cheap fingerprint sensor that is very compact. A system with electrodes, which is also cheap to manufacture, is shown in US56940525 by Toshiba and by NEC (US6154580).
Fingerprint scanner by NEC US6154580
The design of the fingerprint scanner is a separate US class. An example of a special design is shown in a patent of Arete Association WO20000039743 for making a reproducible image of a finger. Another example is US6038322 (Digital Biometrics) in which a palm imaging system is described.
For fingerprint matching the next methods are available in patent literature
· Minutiae extraction (which costs much computing power)
· Direct image correlation (can also be implemented in ASICS hardware as is described in US5056162). A disadvantage is that a higher accuracy on calculation slows down the computing speed.
· A sophisticated algorithm has been described in US6134340 by TRW-California. In this system pre-selection steps have been made for the shapes that are available in the fingerprints.
In this search also European Patents have been taken into account.
Fujitsu improves the reliability at the enrollment process by detecting the number of minutiae.
In EP1093045 Fujitisi describes and algorithm. Patent EP12033344 from Precise Biometrics with Veridicom describes a method for comparing templates. This algorithm is even better described in US6241288. The company has submitted this patent in many countries. Another patent application is EP1150608 for comparing partial fingerprints. A patent of the NSA in my opinion, anticipates this patent.
NEC has applied for a patent EP1063605 for registration of fingerprints. This is meant to compensate for rotations and translation. Casio describes a correlation algorithm in EP1017008.
Siemens describes in US5920641 a linear structure for fingerprints. A quality measure is used to evaluate the reliability of the analyzed data. Singularities and Minutiae are extracted and stored.
Auto calibration with a fingerprint scanner is described in EP1208524 by Cross Matching Techniques (this techniques is widely known from document scanners).
In US2002/0108047 (Bacon and Thomas) a patent is described for coping with different types of fingerprints scanners and comparing those images.
US2002/0154973 (Freedman & Associates) takes care of biometric data that changes in time. In the patent is also information available that users of biometric fingerprint access control systems will learn how to use the system. For that reason the more experienced user can have a higher level of verification.
Authentec (US6021211) describes an efficient method for indexing and searching in a plurality of reference fingerprints.
NEC describes several patents (e.g. US6370263) on palm prints and the registration of the several parts of the prints.
IBM discloses a patent in US5884971 and US6005963 with an exact algorithm for comparing fingerprints. They claim that their invention can cope with smudged impressions.
Algorithm of finger print matching described in US5884971
Power spectral density data in combination with normalized spatial correlation values is used in US2001/0016055 (Japanese application).
A number of applications have been found in patent literature. Many of those or focused on phones, ATM’s, firearms and airports.
Firearm holster with finger print identification from US6320975.
Live detection and tampering control
In US2002/0095608 a switch is described against tampering with the electronic device. It is isolated from its power source; it is not possible to circumvent the access control feature.
In US2002/0122571 a method is described against fraudulent copying of the digital stored biometrics information.
In US2002/0138768 a portable system is described for examining the biometric evidence further with a heartbeat waveform and by measurements taken by the reflecting light of sub dermal layers of the skin tissues.
In US 2002/0146154 a method is described by detecting tampering with the system if the biometric sample is exactly the same as the enrolment data. Normally there should be dynamic changes in the applicant’s biometric samples.
In US6373967 (California Institute of Technology) a system is described in which fingerprints must be entered in a proper sequence to be recognized by the system, which is known to the user.
In US5719950 (Minnesota Mining and Manufacture Company: 3M) a biometric authentication system is disclosed. In this system the stored biometric data is compared with one non-specific biometric parameter of a physiological characteristic. Claimed is that it is possible to determine that an individual is not incapacitated, dismembered or deceased. From the Internet http://www.ait.ca/html/solutions/biometrics.html it appears that 3M is active in Biometrics for integrated solutions.
3M patent US5719950 determination of physiological characteristics
In US5737439 (Smartouch) describes an anti-fraud biometric scanner that determines if an object exhibits the characteristics of a live human. It has a scanning means for obtaining the biometric sample from the object, blood flow detection. It is also determined if someone is trying to simulate blood flow. From the Internet not many products have been found from this company. One page that appears to be from this company is www.smartouch.net appears to be static.
US5987153 (Quintet) involves detection of fraud with biometric data such as signatures. If the signature is exactly the same as the stored signature, this is rejected. This patent anticipates US 2002/0146154. A link to Quintet hand writing verification can be found at http://www.quintetusa.com /
US2001/0031071 (Medtronic) describes access to medical devices (IMDs) by biometric data.
Example of access to medical devices by biometric data (US2001/0031071)
Several patents (e.g. US62598705 (Dew Engineering)) describe the use of encryption for improving the security of these systems.
Other methods with hands and fingers
US 5793881 describes a system with the structure and other characteristics of the hand by the way someone uses a door handle.
US5862246 shows a system with verification of the knuckles surface of one hand.
US 5787185 shows a patent of the British Technology Group with verification based on the vein pattern in a hand (as is shown in Figure 4 of this patent below). A Korean company BK Systems also describes the vein pattern in a hand. As is shown in http://www.soluniverse.com.hk/bksystem.htm this is also a commercial product.
Furthermore we have found a patent US5751835 of identification of individuals
based on their nail patterns.