Using 'Minutiae' to Match Fingerprints Can Be Accurate

March 17, 2006
Using 'Minutiae' to Match Fingerprints Can Be Accurate
Fingerprint image with four different minutiae points marked. Minutiae types shown are (from left) a bifurcation, ridge ending, core and delta.

A study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology shows that computerized systems that match fingerprints using interoperable minutiae templates—mathematical representations of a fingerprint image—can be highly accurate as an alternative to the full fingerprint image.

NIST conducted the study, called the Minutiae Interoperability Exchange Test (MINEX), to determine whether fingerprint system vendors could successfully use a recently approved standard for minutiae data rather than images of actual prints as the medium for exchanging data between different fingerprint matching systems.

Minutiae templates are a fraction of the size of fingerprint images, require less storage memory and can be transmitted electronically faster than images. However, the techniques used by vendors to convert fingerprint images to minutiae are generally proprietary and their systems do not work with each other.

For many years, law enforcement agencies have used automated fingerprint matching devices. Increasingly, smart cards—which include biometric information such as fingerprints—are being used to improve security at borders and at federal facilities. The increased use and the desire to limit storage space needed on these cards is driving the use of minutiae rather than full images.

Fourteen fingerprint vendors from around the world participated in MINEX. Performance depended largely on how many fingerprints from an individual were being matched. Systems using two index fingers were accurate more than 98 percent of the time. For single-index finger matching, the systems produced more accurate results with images than with standard minutia templates. However, systems using images and two fingers had the highest rates of accuracy, 99.8 percent. Results of the test are available at

Source: NIST

Explore further: iPhone 5S fingerprint scanning: Thumbs up or down?

Related Stories

iPhone 5S fingerprint scanning: Thumbs up or down?

September 13, 2013

Technology to acquire and use biometric data such as fingerprints has been around for several decades and has made its way from forensic investigation to laptop computers – and now, with this week's introduction of iPhone ...

Recommended for you

Horn of Africa drying ever faster as climate warms

October 9, 2015

The Horn of Africa has become increasingly arid in sync with the global and regional warming of the last century and at a rate unprecedented in the last 2,000 years, according to new research led by a University of Arizona ...

What are white holes?

October 9, 2015

Black holes are created when stars die catastrophically in a supernova. So what in the universe is a white hole?

Could 'The Day After Tomorrow' happen?

October 9, 2015

A researcher from the University of Southampton has produced a scientific study of the climate scenario featured in the disaster movie 'The Day After Tomorrow'.

A mission to a metal world—The Psyche mission

October 9, 2015

In their drive to set exploration goals for the future, NASA's Discovery Program put out the call for proposals for their thirteenth Discovery mission in February 2014. After reviewing the 27 initial proposals, a panel of ...

The universe's most miraculous molecule

October 9, 2015

It's the second most abundant substance in the universe. It dissolves more materials than any other solvent. It stores incredible amounts of energy. Life as we know it would not be possible without it. And although it covers ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.