Pros & Cons of Portable Fingerprint Scanners

Written by jason thompson
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Pros & Cons of Portable Fingerprint Scanners
Modern technology has made fingerprint scanners easy to take virtually anywhere. (biometric device with coloured fingerprint image by Andrew Brown from

For most of modern police history, fingerprints have been taken with ink and paper, and read by human eye or, sometimes, computer analysis. However, this method was very time consuming and prone to errors such as blurred images and false identification. Portable fingerprint scanners scan fingerprints images in directly using digital techniques. A wireless transmitter then sends the images to a database of stored fingerprint images to compare them by computer analysis. Some have built in cameras to record pictures along with prints. Portable fingerprint scanners are used by both police forces and private security organisations. They are even provided as home computer peripheral security devices.

Pro: Portability

One of the chief advantages of portable fingerprint scanners is that they can be taken almost anywhere. They enable police officers to determine if a suspect is who they think he or she is, or see if the suspect is wanted elsewhere. Portable scanners allow travelling businessmen a high level of security even while away from home. They let background checks be performed much more quickly than used to be possible.

Con: False Readings

A disadvantage of portable fingerprint scanners is their lack of accuracy. They are sometimes unable to identify fingerprint images. They can also be fooled by false fingerprint images. Optical portable fingerprint scanners are particularly easy to fool by giving them a picture of a fingerprint to scan.

Pro: Theft-Resistant

Another advantage of portable fingerprint scanners is that they are a portable means of proving identity that is much less easy to fool than identification cards or passwords. Cards can be stolen by pickpockets or faked by forgers. Passwords can be discovered by computers or even just guessed. Fingerprints are a lot more difficult to obtain from another person.

Con: Irreplacability of Data

However, identification cards and passwords do have one significant advantage over portable fingerprint scanners. Portable scanners themselves are relatively easy to steal, as they are small enough to be portable. Once a person has lost their fingerprints, they cannot get new ones. Identification cards and passwords can be replaced with relative ease.

Con: Tampering

There is another danger stemming from the theft of portable fingerprint scanners. If a criminal steals one and can figure out how to access it, then he or she can tamper with the images in it and erase all evidence of a crime. A thief could even create a false record, incriminating an innocent person for a crime.

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