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Patenting innovation

It was

developed by a group of five students of the Department of Electronics at the UIT.

The`Live

digital identifier' will do identification, retrieval of fingerprints all by itself

ThiruvananthapuramMay 22A new fingerprint identification system developed by a group of students at the University Institute of Technology (UIT) here is patentable, according to expert opinion.

Developed by a group of five students of the Department of Electronics at the UIT - Mr Sreejith K. Nair, Ms Preetha S., Mr Sarath Kumar J., Mr Unni Krishnan S.P. and Mr Ajay Thomson under the guidance of Mr Sunil Thomas the system is special in that finger print identification and retrieval is carried out by employing a biometric sensor and a software development kit (SDK).

In the system currently in vogue, a computer matches and short-lists fingerprints but an expert has to be consulted for manually identifying them.

The new invention, called `Live digital identifier', is enabled to do both identification and retrieval of fingerprints all by itself.

The system runs a high speed CPU and works on the basis of an accurate performance algorithm.

An optical sensor scans the impression of our finger and stores it as digital data. It scans the impression twice at a time, storing and verifying the fingerprint.

Storage

Error-free storage enables retrieval of the code for a particular person. The code retrieved is unique since no two fingerprints are alike.

When the same finger is again scanned, the code stored is retrieved. In this manner, the need for manual identification by an expert is obviated altogether.

Patentable

The whole idea may not be `novel' in strict sense, but in the present case, the algorithm and the coding developed are unique, says Mr R.S. Praveen Raj, Scientist-IP Management and Technology Transfer at the National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology, here, and formerly Examiner of Patents and Designs at the Indian Patent Office.

Similar inventions have been reported in Patent Literature; for instance a US Patent No 7082213 (method for identity verification) and US Patent No 6912299 (device for detecting a fingerprint, electronic apparatus and doorkeeper apparatus).

"But the invention under reference here is different with respect to the use of electronic components and the coding.

According to clause (k) of Section (3) of the Indian Patent Act, neither computer programmes per se nor algorithms are patentable," Mr Raj said.

"Exceptions are: (a) technical application of software and (b) software combined with hardware, including embedded systems The invention developed by the UIT Students is an embedded system that employs technical application of the software."

An important application of the device is in the prevention of bogus/fake voting during general elections. It is small in size and user-friendly that even a common man can use it without prior technical training.

Other probable areas of application include issue of licences, passport verification and criminal identification.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated May 23, 2007)
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