Fiberio is first touchscreen that reads fingerprints as you use it

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A new fiber-optic tabletop PC system is the first which “reads” fingerprints as people use it – and could form the basis of a secure identification system for transactions in shops or banks.

Sensors inside Fiberio “read” reflected light from the table’s surface, with enough detail to identify fingerprints as a user touches the surface. Users can be identified instantly and seamlessly as they use the device. The prototype machine is multi-touch, so that several users can use it at any one time.

“Fiberio is the first interactive tabletop system that authenticates users during touch interaction – unobtrusively and securely using the biometric features of fingerprints, which frees users from carrying identification tokens,” says designer Christian Holz.

The rear-projection “Tabletop PC” will be detailed in a paper Fiberio: A Touchscreen that Senses Fingerprints to be presented at the ACM symposium on User Interface Software and Technology.

Holz suggests that Fiberio could be used in banks to, “verify that the respective user has the authority to perform the current activity – such as approve invoices above a certain value.”

The table would identify both the bank manager and the customer instantly, Holz suggests – working out both whether the manager had the authority to approve invoices, and also securely identifying the customer.

“The key that allows Fiberio to display an image and sense fingerprints at the same time is its screen material: a fiber optic plate,” says Holz.

Fiberio works using a rear-projection system, similar to the one found in Microsoft’s Surface table PCs, which are often used in point-of-sale situations. The projection system allows the machine to “read” reflections in the plate – the system could not work in its current guise in normal tablets and smartphones.

ESET Senior Research Fellow David Harley discusses the advantages of biometric systems in a We Live Security blog post, “The sad fact is, static passwords are a superficially cheap but conceptually unsatisfactory solution to a very difficult problem, especially if they aren’t protected by supplementary techniques. Biometrics and one-time passwords and tokens are much more secure, especially when implemented in hardware as a two-factor authentication measure.”

Author Rob Waugh, We Live Security

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