New Prototype Brings Finger Vein Security to Mobile Devices

unsplash_mobileThe Idiap Research Institute, in collaboration with the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland, has announced that they have developed a prototype for a finger-vein sensor for mobile applications.

A photo of the device indicates that it’s about the size of a small smartphone, with a thicker area including a kind of socket in which a finger can be scanned. The device appears to connect to mobile devices via a USB-style cord.

In a statement on Idiap’s website, the company notes that the device is unique in the technology it uses to scan finger veins. While most such devices rely on a technique employing Near-Infrared Light (NIR), the Idiap prototype uses “a reflexion technique using an innovative configuration of NIR illumination.”

The researchers have not yet discussed the practical applications of the device, but it’s fair to speculate that the device will not find its strongest market in the commercial smartphone world; most smartphone manufacturers use the kind of fingerprint scanning technology pioneered by Apple devices for biometric authentication as it is relatively cheap, unobtrusive, and increasingly familiar to consumers. But vascular recognition technology has the added security of requiring active blood flow in the user, which could make the device ideal for highly sensitive security scenarios. It could end up being the next Tactivo reader, adding a high level of security to the mobile devices of employees who need to be able to access and transmit sensitive data on the go.