Futuristic Fingerprinting Now

When the latest Jason Bourne action movie hit theaters in July, so did a high tech fingerprint identification device built by Huntsville company Advanced Optical Systems Inc. (AOS).

The AOS Automated, Non-contact, Distance Identity On the Go (ANDI OTG) system uses sensors to take FBI quality Personal Identity Verification certified fingerprints while people walk past the device with an extended hand, says Richard Hartman, AOS chairman and CEO. 

The system moves 3, 000 people per hour and works with existing fingerprint databases, because it can match against prints taken by contact or non-contact methods. When it comes to capturing fingerprints, because no one touches the device, there are no cleaning steps between users to slow down the process.

“We’ve never found anyone who can’t be fingerprinted, ” says Christopher Centamore, director of business development at AOS. “It’s effective even with aging fingers. With platen devices sometimes fingerprint ridges disappear, because, as we age collagen breaks down, but the OTG captures even the faintest prints.”

Universal Pictures contacted AOS after a 2015 public demonstration of the OTG at the Global Identity Summit in Tampa. As a result, AOS hand-built mock-ups of the ANDI OTG and sent them to the movie studios in London. 

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“At first they wanted two real devices, ” Centamore says. “We didn’t have any available, because they were all in use, but we put these mock-ups together with a combination of wood, foam core and thick stainless steel mock-up film.”

In the movie, the ANDI OTG is used to gain access to the CIA headquarters in Frankfurt.

When the movie opened in Huntsville, AOS took the devices to a Huntsville theater so moviegoers could see them firsthand.

“When my daughter went to see the movie with friends, I asked her if she used it, and she said the line was too long, that people were taking pictures with it, ” Centamore says.

In real life, the ANDI OTG produces an accurate fingerprint for matching and facility access, Hartman says. It’s ideal for high security applications like border control, airport ticket verification, visitor management, ticketless event access, medical access and checkpoint authorization.

That’s because ANDI OTG provides near instant matching of fingerprints to fingerprints in its database. It’s also simple to use, because the device identifies your hand and takes your fingerprint as you pass by.

Earlier this year, Hartman says, Sen. Jeff Sessions took the Department of Homeland Security to task for not doing what they’re legally tasked to do as far as identifying foreign visitors as they enter the country.

“One week later, we were in his office with a demonstration to let him know the technology does exist, ” Hartman says.

Centamore says the ANDI OTG can hold information for up to 100, 000 people in the onboard database. The ANDI can be connected to larger, secured databases like an automated fingerprint identification system holding millions of enrolled participants.  

Security of the device itself was considered in its development, Hartman says. A major plus for the device is that if it gets stolen nothing is lost except the scanning hardware.

“It can’t be reverse engineered to get the fingerprints, because they’re not stored on the device itself, ” Centamore says. “We turn the fingerprints into a non-reversible algorithm that can’t be reverse engineered.”

Hartman and Centamore believe there will be more future development of the system to work with law enforcement because the ANDI OTG is fast, accurate and clean. It doesn’t require touching anything, like a flatbed scanner.

The Huntsville firm invented Zero-Contact Fingerprinting with an innovation that Popular Science magazine named one of the top 100 innovations of 2012, Hartman says. Its initial product, AIRprint, became the core of the AOS ANDI product line. AIRprint was awarded top honors at the Edison Awards. 

From its robotic, talking enrollment station, the ANDI 200, to the ANDI OTG, which is the fastest fingerprinting device ever invented, AOS’ unique approach to biometric innovations opens up new possibilities in the biometrics industry, Centamore says.

AOS serves government and commercial customers with electro-optical research and development. Hartman says the company started in 1988 with a focus on missile target identification. The optical solutions innovators have since evolved during the past decade into a global leader in Zero-Contact Fingerprinting technologies and products.

Sensing at a distance and high-speed computation is what led to the ability to recognize a hand and capture fingerprints from the hand.

“We’re at the high-speed end of this, with high accuracy, ” Hartman says.

The technology is being used in a variety of applications, and it can be customized to fit the need. In the movie, for example, the stand-alone device is used, which can handle multiple people walking through, at normal walking speed. 

There are smaller wall mountable units, which can be used for office entry. On the commercial side, some fast food restaurants have implemented it for manager overrides, because cards wear out quickly in a greasy environment. 

“If an office has multiple doors, the fingerprint scan can replace badges or even dual badges, ” Centamore says.

Hartman says studies show people are more willing to provide fingerprints than other biometric forms of identification. Apple’s fingerprint access for the iPhone has played a role in making it more acceptable, he says.

In the past, the option was going to the police station for a background check and fingerprinting, or children getting printed in the event of a kidnapping.

“Those were all negative, ” Centamore says. “Our device even has a friendly name, ANDI, and it dings happy tones when you finish. It’s a different way of collecting and checking fingerprints.”

Centamore says AOS recognizes the public’s concerns over privacy.

“As we have done side-by-side biometric modalities, at first it was counter intuitive, but we’ve found that people are more accepting of fingerprinting than iris or facial recognition, ” he says. “TV shows like CSI and others have led the public to believe if their face is enrolled in a database they are always tracked and it’s a concern.”

The privacy concern, he says, is much stronger in Europe than the U.S.

“One thing we should think about is our name, age, social security number, address and birthdate, those are things we hand over everyday to someone who has undergone no background check, ” Centamore says. “So think about if you go buy a six-pack, if you were identified by a fingerprint, it’s a more private method of identification and has a privacy advantage.”

Wendy Reeves and Tyler Brown are freelance contributors to Business Alabama. Both are based in Huntsville.

Text By WENDY REEVES // Photos by tyler brown

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