Dry Skin Can Baffle Biometric Fingerprinting

I’d hate to be locked out of my job/country/computer because of dry hands. This paper reports a whopping 27% verification failure among those with dry hands compared with 2% for the control group.

http://archderm.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1485344

Fingerprint Changes and Verification Failure Among Patients With Hand Dermatitis

Objectives  To determine the prevalence of fingerprint verification failure and to define and quantify the fingerprint changes associated with fingerprint verification failure.

Design  Case-control study.

Setting  Referral public dermatology center.

Patients  The study included 100 consecutive patients with clinical hand dermatitis involving the palmar distal phalanx of either thumb and 100 age-, sex-, and ethnicity-matched controls. Patients with an altered thumbprint due to other causes and palmar hyperhidrosis were excluded.

Main Outcome Measures  Fingerprint verification (pass/fail) and hand eczema severity index score.

Results  Twenty-seven percent of patients failed fingerprint verification compared with 2% of controls. Fingerprint verification failure was associated with a higher hand eczema severity index score (P < .001). The main fingerprint abnormalities were fingerprint dystrophy (42.0%) and abnormal white lines (79.5%). The number of abnormal white lines was significantly higher among the patients with hand dermatitis compared with controls (P = .001). Among the patients with hand dermatitis, the odds of failing fingerprint verification with fingerprint dystrophy was 4.01. The presence of broad lines and long lines was associated with a greater odds of fingerprint verification failure (odds ratio [OR], 8.04; 95% CI, 3.56-18.17 and OR, 2.37; 95% CI, 1.31-4.27, respectively), while the presence of thin lines was protective of verification failure (OR, 0.45; 95% CI, 0.23-0.89).

Conclusions  Fingerprint verification failure is a significant problem among patients with more severe hand dermatitis. It is mainly due to fingerprint dystrophy and abnormal white lines.

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