Advantages of palm vein biometrics

Issue 4 2022 Access Control & Identity Management

Palm vein biometric recognition is distinct; your palm vein pattern is internal to your body. A near infrared light is used to map the unique vein structure of your palm, capturing over 5 million data points. The scanner then converts these data points into an encrypted code that becomes your private biometric ID.

Fulcrum Biometrics Southern Africa, local representative of Fujitsu’s global biometric subsidiary, Fulcrum Biometrics, offers five key differentiators when comparing palm vein biometrics with other modalities.

1. Security

Palm vein scanning is more secure than other biometrics because it is never exposed. Other biometrics are observable:

• Your face is seen everywhere it goes, sophisticated cameras are commonplace and can identify you from a considerable distance.

• Your voice is readily captured over the telephone.

• Your fingerprints may be left on almost any surface you touch.

• Your iris can now be recognised from several metres away.

• Your retina is not exposed, but the technology is too costly, requires an extremely close, inconvenient, stare into the camera and is not used for commercial applications.

While many vendors claim “liveness” testing, this technology is not perfect and is still vulnerable to more sophisticated spoofing methods. Since palm vein biometrics are concealed underneath your skin and inside your hand, it is effectively impossible for a thief to steal them.

Additionally, since the palm vein sensor can detect blood flow, it has built-in liveness tests and requires you to present your palm (and quite obviously attached to your arm). Thus, even if your palm vein pattern was duplicated onto a fabricated surface, the scanner could not be fooled without live blood flowing through the veins, making palm vein almost impossible to spoof without simple detection or observation.

2. Privacy

Privacy pertains to you only presenting your biometric when you choose to. Palm vein is internal to the body, it can only be captured via a close-up, high-definition camera in combination with near Infrared light. Since you must deliberately present your open hand to the device, it is intrinsically private.

This privacy aspect has advantages to any organisation that implements palm vein technology:

• Consent is the number-one requirement in privacy regulations around the world, including PoPIA in South Africa. Palm vein’s consent-based design makes it easier for you to comply with these regulations and avoid legal issues.

• Palm vein’s acknowledgement of your right to choose when you present your biometric, will be seen as more trustworthy by your customers, staff and trade union bodies, making it much more “friendly” and open to adoption.

3. Accuracy

The palm has a larger surface area than most other modalities, so the PalmSecure scanner is able to capture over 5 million data points in the unique vein structure of the palm. Because of this, Palm vein has a lower False Acceptance Rate (FAR) and False Rejection Rate (FRR) than any other biometric, affording it unparalleled accuracy.

4. Reliability

A person’s palm vein pattern remains relatively stable throughout life, so the chance that a registered user will be denied access and have to re-enrol in the future is extremely low. Other modalities and especially fingers, are likely to suffer occasional damage; face and voice are both susceptible to change with age and facial biometrics can also be hampered by cosmetics, tattoos, masks, buffs and beard growth in men.

An interesting take on reliability that is not a pure technology issue has surfaced with face recognition scanners. Some of the best of these will recognise your face from several metres away, even if you are only walking past and glancing towards the camera, with no intention of entering a secured area or registering attendance. Other people standing in close proximity can then easily gain unauthorised access when they hear the door lock release. This characteristic can also be abused by an employee with malicious intent or deceitful obfuscation of Time and Attendance systems.

The PalmSecure scanner from Fulcrum is resistant to dirt, dust, dryness and moisture, making it functional in a variety of different environments. This means that when you scan your palm, you are assured that it will work every time and only for the person intended, making palm vein an exceptionally reliable biometric.

5. Hygiene

Palm vein is contactless, you don’t have to touch the sensor to scan your palm. To identify yourself, simply hover your hand over the scanner. For large numbers of people, or where strict sanitation requirements exist, such as in hospitals and food manufacturing facilities, zero contact, hygienic operation is essential.


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