The only fingerprint readers in the late 1800s and early 1900s were people. Using printer’s ink, fingerprints were pressed onto paper and analyzed using a fingerprint identification classification system created by Sir Frances Galton. The system was later updated by Sir Edward Henry. Known as the Henry System of fingerprint analysis, it is still in use today.
In the 1970s, the Federal Bureau of Investigation developedthe Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). Debutingin 1981 and 1999 respectively, AFISand IAFIS could scan 10-print cards for computer comparison, drastically speeding up the identification process.
The latest advancements in fingerprinting technology use four types of scanners to transfer print images directly into a computer database.
- optical scanners take digital images
- capacitance scanners measure electrical conductivity between fingerprint ridges and valleys
- ultra sound readers use sound waves to record the prints beneath the epidermal layer of skin
- thermal imaging measures temperature fluctuations between fingerprint ridges and valleys