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Author Topic: Fingerprint readers
Jack McGregor
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We've received a couple of queries about the possibility of integrating fingerprint readers into A-Shell, and I'm curious if anyone else has any experience with these devices or interest in them.

The immediate case is to use it as part of a computerized time-clock system, but you could easily see how it might be incorporated into other kinds of access control mechanisms (in the same way that a security card might be used).

Most of the devices on the market have USB interfaces, but oddly it doesn't seem common for them to come with integrated software except for Windows Logon.

We could investigate creating a general purpose USB interface (analogous to TCPX for TCP and COMIO for serial), but that's a somewhat broader undertaking, and also possibly too shallow for this particular case, since merely reading the raw data being scanned by a fingerprint reader might not be that useful without a more specific SDK to make sense of it. And that might even vary from one vendor to another.

Anyway, just fishing for ideas...

From: Woodland Hills, CA | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Steve - Caliq
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On similar lines we have been asked in the last year if we could integrate fobs where the user can scan his fob when logging on (and when starting/completing certain tasks with in the system, useful knowing who manufactured what etc) the fobs where similar to these.
I've done no researched yet on the possibilities but understand there are USB device that read them much like the fingerprint readers you talk about.

So it would be useful knowing what you do/find..

From: Cambridge, England. | Registered: Sep 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Jack McGregor
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The fob device would actually be a lot easier to interface to, compared to the fingerprint readers, because the amount of data they send is very small, and perfectly unique. According to the data sheet, the fob you are talking about sends only an 8 byte ID.

Fingerprint readers (and other biometric scanners - iris, vein, facial, voice, etc.) on the other hand, may send large data blocks. But more importantly, no two biometric scans, even of the same finger, are ever exactly the same. So you can't just store and compare them like you can with IDs or login/passwords. Instead, you typically need to rely on trade-secret-protected algorithms in the SDK to interpret the data and establish confidence levels of whether any two are for the same person. The main upside of the biometrics is that you can't easily loan, borrow, steal, forget, break, or lose yours, like you can with cards and fobs.

I may be misunderstanding the product you linked to, but it looks like they offer a range of controllers with different interfaces to the computer, including RS232 and ethernet. So it would seem that you can just use serial I/O (opening the port as an input file), or TCPX to interface with the reader.

On the fingerprint project, my plan is to request SDK eval kits from a couple of vendors and to a bit more exploration ...

Innovatrics (IDKit)
Neurotechnology (VeriFinger)

Unfortunately, none of the major vendors appear to offer royalty-free SDK licenses, so any solution would be encumbered by per-scanner runtime licenses. Typically those range from $15 to $75; the scanners themselves range from about $50 to $5000. There are some open source libraries available in the Linux world, but they don't appear to offer the performance / flexibility / standards compliance, confidence levels, etc. to handle large fingerprint databases with 1:N matching and commercial requirements.

But for small/casual environments, you can find readers that will interface with a Raspberry Pi using simple serial I/O. For example, the GT-511C3 scanner can store and identify 10 fingerprints, using simple commands.

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Joe Leibel
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At one point I was looking into interfacing to time clocks. The customer never pulled the trigger but my impression was that these would be usable. There was documentation on how to interface with them. Its called a Shlage HP1000E made by Ingersoll Rand. Search with the word MANUAL and you can get the specs.
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Jack McGregor
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That Shlage unit appears to offer a TCP interface, and seems to encapsulate the details of ID matching, so it's probably relatively easy to interface with using TCPX. At approximately $1000, it may not be for everyone, but that's probably reasonable for a real time-clock replacement.

For more general/flexible/open-ended fingerprint capture applications, since last week, I managed to find a royalty-free library for the Digital Persona and EikonTouch single-finger scanners (such as the U.are.U 4500 at about $70), and have created an A-Shell function library wrapper for it which seems to work pretty well for capturing and matching prints from a population of dozens or perhaps hundreds of prints. (The higher-end, more expensive libraries, may only be needed when dealing with much larger populations, e.g. law enforcement or Big Brother applications.)

The data that needs to be stored for each finger is about 440 bytes, making it possible to actually store as a fixed length field in a data file, or as a blob in a database, as opposed to needing to store individual image files.

At this point the commercial demand for this kind of solution isn't completely clear, and we're not sure how to package, support, or otherwise make it available, but if anyone is interested in more details, feel free to inquire.

From: Woodland Hills, CA | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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