Two fingerprints

A Guide to MSI Technology: How It Works

Biometrics are a proven method of identity authentication to ensure someone else isn’t fraudulently using your identity. The capabilities of fingerprint technology have continued to improve over time. In high-stakes situations, it’s vital to work with an advanced fingerprint reader that can handle real-world situations, including:

  • Ability to capture difficult fingerprints (dry, wet, dirty, oily, wrinkled, damaged)
  • Ability to perform in challenging environments (direct sunlight, dark, hot, cold, rain, snow)
  • Ability to detect fake fingerprints (liveness detection)
  • Ability to match with high accuracy (accept legitimate users)

The advanced engineering used to develop multispectral imaging (MSI) fingerprint readers resulted in field-proven devices for mission-critical applications. Organizations that require best-in-class performance for unparalleled levels of security and usability invest in MSI-based fingerprint devices.

What Is Multispectral Imaging (MSI)?

MSI is an advanced image-processing technique patented by HID. It is incorporated into high-performing biometric devices that collect fingerprint surface and subsurface information.

While other types of fingerprint technology capture only the outermost layers of skin, MSI technology penetrates inside the finger, collecting internal fingerprint information for improved performance and usability.

The uniqueness of this technique is in the light.

Multiple Colors of Light – How MSI Works

A fingerprint’s surface is comprised of ridges and valleys, similar to waves in the ocean. Each person has a unique pattern to their fingerprint ridges — and what sits on the top layer is mirrored in the internal layers. Capillary structures inside fingers are made up of veins below the skin that follow the fingerprint pattern on the outer surface.

MSI readers not only capture surface fingerprints, but also assess the subsurface details. If you’re dealing with a human, this “internal fingerprint” will match the external fingerprint. If images differ, you have a potential spoofing situation.

External Fingerprint • Surface Information • Your “External” Print • Capillary Information • Your “External” Print • Deep Tissue Information • How Human Are You? Internal Fingerprint

This all happens using advanced, patented HID light projection and capture techniques. MSI technology sends multiple colors of light into the finger at different angles to penetrate the skin and reach the deep finger tissue. Blue light collects the surface data. Red and green lights collect the subsurface data at varying depths.

Using multi-colored light at different angles, MSI readers collect up to 12 different images, which are combined into a single best image. The benefit of combining multiple images is to reliably capture fingerprint data that works in a wide variety of real-world situations. The system isn’t looking at just one image from one light source at a single angle, but instead is looking at a combination of information that improves reliability, especially in difficult conditions, such as dry, aged or damaged prints.

Works with All Finger Types

A big advantage for MSI fingerprint devices is the ability to capture usable fingerprint images from even the most difficult finger types. MSI technology can collect and match users even if the skin is dry, damaged, wet, oily, dirty or wrinkled. It can also capture details across various skin tones and demographics — generating clear, usable fingerprint images regardless of finger variances.

Watch the video below to see how MSI fingerprint readers are ideal for mission-critical use cases — capturing prints across varying skin and environmental conditions.

Don’t Get Fooled by Fake Fingerprints

There are thousands of materials that can be used to make fake fingers — from candy to latex to prosthetics. High schoolers to hardcore criminals can easily attempt to bypass fingerprint systems and commit fraud.

The MSI devices’ ability to capture surface and subsurface fingerprint data enables this technology to verify liveness with accuracy. Liveness detection is the ability to identify and reject fake fingerprint attempts. If the surface data matches the subsurface data, it’s a live human. If they don’t match, it’s a potential spoof.

For mission-critical applications — such as healthcare, government, banking and other security-intense environments where proven identity is crucial — having proven fingerprint devices is essential to protect financial losses, corporate image, brand reputation and customer relationships. 

fake fingerprint

A fake fingerprint spoof created at Michigan State University to test fingerprint scanners. Image Credit: Michigan State University.

All Points Secure, From A to Z

Endpoint security is an important consideration when selecting a high-performing fingerprint reader. Sophisticated technology that encrypts data to and from the device using FBI-certified encryption algorithms is incorporated into best-in-class MSI fingerprint devices. Should a hacker gain access to the fingerprint device, the endpoint security technology uses tamper-detection features to erase the on-device encryption keys. This prevents criminals from capturing and decoding protected data and reduces the risk of enterprise-wide cyberattacks.

Find the Right Match With Reliable, Accurate MSI-Based Fingerprint Readers

Organizations using MSI-based fingerprint readers benefit from deployments that deliver high trust in user authentication, based on a secure system designed to deliver the highest levels of identity assurance. The value of MSI fingerprint readers is the ability to:

  • Capture biometric details on difficult finger types (dry, dirty, oily, wrinkled, damaged), across distinct skin tones/demographic groups
  • Perform in challenging environments (direct sunlight, heat, cold, rain, snow, dirt, etc.)
  • Detect liveness and accurately recognize fake finger attempts
  • Prevent the rejection of legitimate users
  • Secure endpoints to prevent hackers from accessing your networks, systems and data
  • Deliver reliable capture through a rugged system for multi-user and high-traffic applications
  • Contribute to a satisfying user experience
  • Protect corporate reputation and mitigate financial losses

Interested in learning more about the MSI-based fingerprint technology? Read this white paper >>

If you’re ready to onboard field-proven MSI-based fingerprint authentication for your demanding trusted identity applications — let’s connect!