10 February, 2014
Fingerprint biometric innovator, Lumidigm, had an unlikely start in the medical field rather than the identity and security realm. Johnson & Johnson and InLight solutions were exploring the potential of spectroscopy technology to check glucose levels in the skin tissue of diabetic patients without having to take a blood sample. Researchers noticed that the “noise” from each sample was unique.
This unique finding led to Lumidigm’s spin-off in 2001, and a shift in focus to potential biometric applications of the technology. The company’s mission became development of a fingerprint biometric sensor that could use spectroscopy to improve image quality and liveness detection.
Today, Lumdigm provides fingerprint scanners that solve problems that have plagued traditional biometric scanners. With contact-based scanners that read the surface of the skin only, accuracy is degraded by non-ideal skin conditions, damaged fingerprints and adverse environmental conditions.
In contrast, multispectral imaging technology uses multiple light spectrums and advanced polarization techniques to extract unique fingerprint characteristics from both the surface and subsurface of the skin.
Lumidigm excelled in these areas, establishing itself as a leader in fingerprint biometrics for secure applications. The culmination of these efforts garnered a great deal of attention and eventually led to an acquisition of the company in early 2014 by the identity and security industry giant, HID Global.
“The company has unique technology protected by a large patent portfolio and proprietary algorithms,” said HID Global President and CEO Denis Hébert.
Lumidigm had been privately held and venture-capital backed since its founding, says Bob Harbour, executive chairman of Lumidigm and chairman and president of the International Biometrics and Identification Association. “Lumidigm is a good strategic fit for a major multi-national ID company,” Harbour explains.
The acquisition may enable Lumdigm to pursue other important product initiatives and other biometric modalities. “On the research and product development front, we have the ability to expand our biometric capability beyond fingerprints,” Harbour says.
It will almost certainly expand the technology’s reach further into the global market.
Lumidigm’s technology is already used internationally — with implementations in South Africa, Brazil and beyond — but the merger will expand that even further, Harbour says.
And both companies see the future of biometrics expanding beyond law enforcement, government and other traditional sectors. “The real growth and story around Lumidigm is in health care, banking, corporate and industrial markets,” says Harbour.