While ears may be the new biometric du jour, Advanced Optical Systems (AOS) is doing its best to keep fingerprints as the preferred method for identifying enemies of the state. The company has built a fingerprint scanner with the ability to accurately read a print up to two meters away, and our military views the system as a means to reduce the risk to soldiers at security checkpoints all over the world. The AIRPrint system is a significant upgrade over previous biometric security systems because it allows a person's identity to be confirmed by military personnel from behind the safety of a blast wall or armored vehicle, which keeps our serviceman out of harm's way. AIRPrint uses a source of polarized light and two 1.3 megapixel cameras (one to receive vertically polarized light and another to receive horizontally polarized light) in order to produce an accurate fingerprint. The prototype is able to scan and verify a print in under five seconds, but the device can presently only process one finger at a time, and that finger must stay a fixed distance from the cameras to get a precise reading. Despite these current limitations, AOS claims that soon the equipment will be capable of reading five prints simultaneously while a person is moving toward or away from the device. The system will be ready for market in the third quarter of this year, which is bad news for terrorists and soccer hooligans, but a windfall for Big Brother.
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