Monday, July 22, 2013

The sensor-screen: Two giant leaps

Two things struck me about the news that Christian Holz and Patrick Baudisch of the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Germany have developed a type of digital display that can sense fingerprints. World-first: Biometric screen recognises fingerprints (Techworld)

The first is the engineering of the screen itself:
The key that allows Fiberio to display an image and sense fingerprints at the same time is its screen material: a fibre optic plate,” said Holz.

The fibre optic plate is comprised entirely of millions of 3mm-long optical fibres bundled together vertically.

Each fibre emits rays of visible light from an image projector placed below the glass. At the same time, infrared light from a source adjacent to the projector bounces off the fingerprints and back down to an infrared camera below.
That sounds like each pixel is controlled with its own fiber and, theoretically at least, should allow for two-way communication of all sorts of information through the screen. At that point the screen might eventually become the camera, too.

Then there's the approach to authentication the screen technology facilitates.
Security is one of the main issues around deploying public computers and the researchers addressed this by implementing an additional security layer, which authenticates users every time they try and do something to verify if the respective user has the authority to perform the task they are trying to complete.
The other really big idea this screen-sensor allows is authentication on a per-input-event level, or constant ID verification. Because the screen can "see," it could always "know," to some degree, who is using it. With that, the whole log-in/log-out regime could get an overdue overhaul.