A team of British postgraduate researchers have designed a miniature fingerprint scanner for use in healthcare in the developing world, according to a Reuters report. The researchers have dubbed the device Simprints, and are working with NGOs to test different models as they prepare for pilot testing next January in Bangladesh.
The core function of the Simprints scanner is to retrieve users’ medical records via a quick, in-the-field fingerprint scan. The device doesn’t actually hold those records itself; it merely connects with them via their mobile apps, syncing information between the two with each connection. That provides the added benefit of allowing healthcare professionals to collect patient information in remote areas even where there is no cellular connection available, since the updated patient data can be uploaded to the partner healthcare organization the next time a connection is available.
The researchers have also been keen to protect user security and privacy. Simprint immediately converts biometric data into template keys, and transmits information using “the same level of encryptions that we use in online banking or financial transactions that secure any data that passes between the phone and the server,” according to one of the researchers behind the product.
In its current iteration, Simprints still struggles to scan the fingerprints of infants and of manual laborers with very rough hands, but it nevertheless promises to be a valuable tool in healthcare outreach in the developing world. It’s another sign of the great promise of mobile biometrics in this area, and could extend the benefits of the technology to many more individuals in need around the world.