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Types of Fingerprint Scanners and How They Work

Author: Benson Hedge
by Benson Hedge
Posted: Sep 23, 2015

Usernames and passwords are the first step to authenticate people who log on to a certain system. However there are many conditions when a much stronger authentication system is required for protecting highly sensitive and confidential data and files, especially for remote users, and multi factor authentication is presently the best available solution for the challenge. In this type of authentication system a user is required to provide more than one piece of identity information and typical identification factors include something that the user knows along with something the user has, like a smart card or hardware/USB token. In addition, strong multi factor authentication systems include something the user is such as finger or palm prints, iris/retina recognition, voice pattern recognition etc.

Fingerprints are now extensively used for identification in a biometric authentication system and a fingerprint scanner is used for storing, comparing and verification purposes. As the chance of two persons having the same fingerprints is absolutely negligible, a fingerprint reader is increasingly being used for controlling access to various systems. But if you are going to put a multifactor authentication system in place that uses fingerprint for identifying persons and providing them access to company data and documents – you need to understand that these systems work in two separate stages. The first stage is called ‘enrollment’ during which the system is fed fingerprint samples of all authorized persons through fingerprint scanning which are then analyzed and templates are stored in a secure database. Once this is done, the system is ready for the second stage – that is verification and anyone who wants to gain access will need to get their fingerprint identified by the scanner. Any advanced finger scanner will take not more than a few seconds to collect the fingerprint and then compare that with all prints in its existing database to determine whether the person is entitled to gain access or not.

Depending upon the method of scanning, fingerprint readers can be classified in two categories – optical scanners and capacitive scanners. An optical fingerprint scanner uses a bright light beam for effectively taking a digital photograph which is then fed into a computer scanner. There is a light sensitive chip known as ‘charge-coupled device’ or CCD that actually produces the digital image which is then automatically analyzed by the computer and turned into a code by using sophisticated pattern-matching software. On the other hand, capacitive scanners electrically measure a finger when it is rested on the scanning surface and the fingerprint picture is developed by measuring the distances between high and low areas on your fingertip.

If you are looking to buy a new fingerprint reader there are various factors that you need to consider like their OS compatibility, application and directory integration capabilities, easy management etc. Make sure that the scanner you buy is compatible with the OS you are presently running and you can also integrate it with your already existing applications and directories without much difficulty. Easy management of the scanner is also another important factor to consider and if you are looking for more expert guidance on buying a new finger scanner –you can visit

About The Author

Benson Hedge is a pioneer in the field of biometric authentication and runs his own organization manufacturing security systems relating to this technology. He also likes to spread awareness about the many aspects related to the industry through the many informative articles he writes.

About the Author

Crossmatch provides a variety of identity management solutions such as fingerprint biometric hardware, strong authentication software and developer tools.

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Author: Benson Hedge

Benson Hedge

Member since: Feb 03, 2015
Published articles: 20

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