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palm vein recognition

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Palm vein recognition is a biometric authentication method based on the unique patterns of veins in the palms of people’s hands.

Palm vein recognition systems, like many other biometric technologies, capture an image of a target, acquire and process image data and compare it to a stored record for that individual.

How palm vein matching works:

Palm vein scanning systems, like those for finger vein ID, use a technology based on the use of near-infrared rays and the way hemoglobin in the veins reacts to them. The blood's hemoglobin is oxygenated in the lungs and the arteries then carry the oxygenated blood to deliver oxygen to tissues throughout the body. The veins carry deoxygenated blood back to the heart. 

A palm scanner illuminates the palm with near-infrared light, which is absorbed by the deoxidized hemoglobin flowing through the veins. Deoxygenated hemoglobin absorbs more light, reducing the ability of the veins to reflect the light back and causing them to appear as a black pattern that is captured as an image by the system’s camera. The raw data for that image is then processed and compared to a stored record for the individual in question.

Benefits of palm vein recognition systems:

Vascular matching systems rely on the uniqueness of vein patterns in each person, which differ more markedly from one individual to another than the patterns of fingerprints and palm prints. Because the veins are located beneath the skin’s surface and, furthermore, the scans rely on blood flowing through living humans, palm vein scans are virtually impossible to counterfeit. The systems are typically contactless, which makes them more hygienic than touch-based systems. That consideration is particularly important for healthcare environments and high-traffic venues such as supermarkets. Palm scanners are also more protective of individual privacy than some biometric technologies, such as facial recognition, because a sample cannot usually be captured without the person’s knowledge or consent. One exception to that rule, however is a healthcare context, where a palm scan could enable identification of an unconscious individual.

Palm recognition is considered a strong form of the inherence biometric authentication factor and is currently used or being considered for an increasing number of user identification and authentication applications, including online and onsite authentication, automobile security, employee time and attendance tracking, computer and network authentication, healthcare identification, end point security and ATM machines.

See a demonstration of Fujitsu's PalmSecure truedentity system for online shopping and onsite user authentication:

This was last updated in May 2016

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