A fingerprint recognition or fingerprint authentication refers to the preset method of verifying a match between two individual fingerprints. Fingerprints are one of many ways biometrics is used to identify an individual and verify their identity. Fingerprint identification is the oldest biometric technique used today.
There are three basic patterns of fingerprint ridges which are the arch, the loop and the whorl. An arch is the pattern where the ridges enter from one side of the finger and rise in the center to form an arc and then exits the other side of the finger. The loop is the pattern where the ridges enter from one side of a finger, form a curve and seems to exit from the same side they enter. The whorl pattern is where ridges form a circulatory pattern around a central point on the finger. Scientists have found that family members frequently share the same general fingerprint patterns, which makes scientists, believe that these patterns are inherited.
Biometric vs forensic fingerprinting are two authentication methods, and they are very different. Fingerprinting is the method of acquiring and storing the image of a fingerprint. For decades, the common way to acquire a fingerprint was the ink and roll method, used usually when booking suspects or conducting investigations. In recent years, the more advanced optical or non contact fingerprinting system, the live-scan, which normally utilizes the prints from several fingers, is currently the standard for forensic usage. This method requires 250kb per finger for a high quality image. Fingerprint technology also acquires the fingerprint, but does not store the full image. It stores certain data about the fingerprint, in a much smaller capacity, requiring from 250 to 1000 bytes. The full fingerprint is not stored; therefore, it cannot be reconstructed from the fingerprint template.
Searches of fingerprints can be done within only a few hours, highly due to the computer power of AFIS ( Automated Fingerprint Identification System). Fingerprint technology can be used in AFIS on a 100,000 person database; it is more frequently used for one to one verification within a couple of seconds.
Many think of forensic fingerprinting as an ink and paper process. While this may be true in some locations the old ink and paper process is still in use, most locations now use the optical scanners or the live scan systems. There are some differences between the forensic fingerprinting systems, and the biometric fingerprint system used to log into a computer.
The differences between the two technologies are the template, what is stored is not a full fingerprint, but a small bit of data from the fingerprints unique patterns. The accuracy of the AFIS system might return the top 5 candidates in a biometric comparison, thus allowing the authorities to locate and or question the top suspects. Fingerprint systems are designed to return a single yes or no answer based on a single comparison.