Biometric Touchscreen Recognizes Your Fingerprints

An article I wrote for Electronic Products.

The first touchscreen to recognize you by your fingerprints may change the way you interact with computers in public places

Going to the café to sip on some coffee while getting a bit of work done on your laptop may soon become even more convenient. Winding down with nothing but some fresh brew and a fingerprint-identifying touchscreen display on the table in front of you may not be so far-fetched.

Current touch displays cannot scan fingerprints and fingerprint sensors cannot display images, but according to researchers Christian Holz and Patrick Baudisch of the Hasso Plattner Institute in Germany, what they invented does both.

Touchscreen Tabletop

Future coffee shops may be equipped with interactive touchscreen tabletops. Image via New Scientist.

Holz and Baudisch created their prototype, which is about the size of a large tablet, by using a glass screen made entirely of millions of 3-millimeter-long optical fibers bundled together into a single flat platter. Each fiber emits rays of visible light from an image projector below the glass, and an infrared light source alongside the projector bounces off the fingerprints and back to an infrared camera.

According to the researchers, early tests have yielded fingerprint recognition accuracy that’s up to FBI standards, and now they’re working on a touchscreen that won’t require a projector. They envision people in coffee shops being able to work or browse the Internet on large, interactive tabletops instead of lugging in their laptops or tablets.

Fingerprint-identifying tabletops may find their role in your local coffee shop in the future, as they’ll most likely cause customers to stay longer. The only downside is that storing users’ fingerprint data means that privacy issues will have to be addressed before the screen hits the market.

Let’s just hope that whenever these biometric touchscreens become public, those responsible for their maintenance keep them spotless and constantly disinfected.

Want to learn more about touch technology? Visit Mouser’s Touch Technology applications site.

Story via New Scientist.


  1. Steve Wilson (@Steve_Lockstep) · August 3, 2013

    It doesn’t matter how accurate the new sensor screen might be: biometrics for authentication in public is never going to be a good idea. The reference templates need to be stored centrally but the sorry history of data breaches proves that determined identity thieves will always find a way to defeat database security to steal credit card numbers, valuable personal information and biometrics. In fact security advisers increasingly recommend that data custodians should assume they will be breached one day and plan accordingly. But how are you going to plan for a breach of biometric templates? No commercial biometric has yet been demonstrated that can be revoked and reissued after compromise. So the fingerprint sensor screen is sexy but when you really think about the workings of biometrics, it’s best that we leave them in the science fiction movies.

    • Nicole DiGiose · August 3, 2013

      Hi Steve,

      Though I think this biometric touchscreen is quite fascinating, I too agree that because of the points you made, it’s not a great idea overall. I personally would never use one.

      Thank you for reading!

  2. Pingback: Biometric Touchscreen Recognizes Your Fingerprints | Kenneth Carnesi

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