Police to try 3D printed fingerprint to spoof smartphone
22 July 2016 14:49 GMT

Michigan police have used a 3D printer and the knowledge of influential biometrics expert Anil Jain to create a fingerprint and use it to unlock a murder victim’s phone, according to media reports.

A report in fusion relates how earlier this year, law enforcement officers showed up at the lab of Anil Jain, a professor at Michigan State University.

The police then asked Jain to use his lab to create a 3D printed replica of the victim’s fingers.

The police already have a scan of the victim’s fingerprints taken while he was alive (apparently he had been arrested previously). They gave those scans to the lab, and using them Arora has created 3D printed replicas of all ten digits.

To defeat the liveness protection inherent in capacitive sensors, Jain’s PhD student Sunpreet Arora coated the 3D printed fingers in a thin layer of metallic particles so that the fingerprint scanner can read them.

Arora said that in a few weeks, once he’s tested the fingers enough in the lab, he’ll hand them over. Then the police will try to use 3D printed models of a dead man’s fingers to unlock his phone.

Legal issues surrounding the case mirror the controversy earlier this year when the FBI wasn't able to unlock a terrorist’s iPhone, even with a 'fingerprint unlock warrant'. This precedent was created when in February in California, a federal judge signed off on a warrant forcing a suspect to push her finger on an iPhone.