Researchers develop newborn fingerprinting tool
14 September 2018 14:40 GMT

Researchers at the University of California San Diego have created technology that can capture the fingerprints of infants and children, even on the first day of birth.

Eliah Aronoff-Spencer, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine, UC San Diego School of Medicine and the Qualcomm Institute at UC San Diego, told the university's newspaper that it has many humanitarian applications. 

“We think we’ve solved the problem of infant identification for both developed and developing countries,” said Aronoff-Spencer. “This new technology allows for quick, accurate fingerprinting that may eliminate the need for paper identification and improve health care and security for millions.”

Spencer said other technologists have unsuccessfully attempted to extrapolate adult technologies to fingerprinting children. UC San Diego’s solution was to apply a human-centered design and develop the technology from the ground up with infants, caregivers and stakeholders in mind.

“Accurate identification of a child to enable timely vaccinations can improve care, reduce disease burden and save lives,” said Spencer. “This is just the beginning. Consider the usefulness of health identification to track not only vaccinations, but to aid or prevent infectious disease outbreaks. Consider that a person’s identity can now be secured at birth, potentially protecting from identity fraud many years in the future.

“Imagine the ability to assist refugees displaced by war or natural disasters to establish their identity so they can access needed food, aid and care. While a difficult subject, this technology may have applications to help prevent human trafficking and other causes of separation of children from their families.”

Spencer said the technology was conceived to accommodate the size, movements and behaviors of an infant. “Not only did we take into account the child’s physiology and reflexes, but also what would be culturally acceptable in different countries. For example, in some areas, facial photography is shunned, but photography of hands is acceptable.”