NIST releases new fingerprint image software

NIST releases new fingerprint image software

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has released an updated version of a suite of tools for handling digital fingerprint images.

NIST Fingerprint Image Software 2 was developed by NIST's Image Group for the FBI and Homeland Security Department and is available free to U.S. law enforcement agencies as well as to biometrics manufacturers and researchers. The CD contains source code for 56 utilities and a user's guide.

New to this release is a tool that evaluates the quality of a fingerprint scan at the time it is made. Problems such as dry skin, the size of the fingers and the quality and condition of the equipment used can affect the quality of a print and its ability to be matched with other prints. The tool rates each scan on a scale from 1 for a high-quality print to 5 for an unusable one.

'Although most commercial fingerprint systems already include proprietary image qualify software, the NIST software will for the first time allow uses to directly compare fingerprint image quality from scanners made by different manufacturers,' the agency said.

Other utilities include:

  • A segmentation algorithm to divide four-finger impressions into separate images

  • A classification system based on a neural network that categorizes arches, loops, whorls and scars. This updated tool is the only free system of its kind.

  • A matching algorithm that compares and matches prints based on minutiae generated by the minutiae detector that automatically locates ridge endings and bifurcations in a fingerprint image

  • A suite of utilities to read, write, edit and manipulate files formatted according to the NIST standard for the interchange of fingerprint, facial, scar mark and tattoo information

  • A collection of general purpose image utilities.


The software is subject to export control laws. To get a copy, e-mail Craig Watson at craig.watson@nist.gov, and include name, affiliation, postal mailing address and phone number.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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