Fingerprint ID for newborn children in developing countries

24th June 2019
Alex Lynn

NEC Corporation has announced the successful conclusion of fingerprint identification technology trials with newborn children from as young as two to 24 hours old in the Republic of Kenya. This trial is expected to help establish a reliable foundation for biometric authentication of newborn children in emerging countries.

The ability to collect and authenticate biometric information at an early age enables authorities to provide legal identity, including birth registration, for newborn children, ensures proper identification as they are discharged from the hospital, and supports the accurate management of vaccination schedules. 

This demonstration capitalised on continuous field research that began in 2016, resulting in an error rate of just 0.3%, and was carried out in coordination with the NUITM-KEMRI Project (Nagasaki University Institute of Tropical Medicine-Kenya Medical Research Institute Project).

Currently, there are approximately one billion people worldwide without legal identity. In addition, an estimated 5.6 million children under the age of five, including 2.6 million newborns, lose their lives each year. Most of these deaths are considered to be from illness that can be avoided through preventative measures and treatments.

In order to solve this problem, it is necessary to establish methods for registering and identifying newborn children as well as recording their medical history. This is especially important in regions where newborn children are often released from healthcare facilities in as few as six hours after birth. In addition to the importance of being able to verify the identity of children when they leave healthcare facilities, it is also vitally important to be able to confirm the vaccination schedules of children within 14 weeks of birth.

Moreover, as children grow and mature, this identification system can assist with ensuring that children are placed in schools at the most appropriate timing, leading to the advancement of educational opportunities.

NEC's fingerprinting technology is designed to cause minimal stress for newborn children after caregivers have provided informed consent to taking their children's biometric data.

This initiative helps to promote the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the United Nations, particularly Goal 16, Target 16.9: By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration.

Going forward, NEC aims to provide this technology for practical use within biometric authentication infrastructure and national identity systems in emerging countries throughout the world. In addition, it hopes to centralise the authentication of patients who visit public hospitals and to enable convenient access to their medical history.

This will help to minimise the loss of medical information and to prevent errors in treatment due to lack of patient information. This information may also contribute to the understanding of civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) in the near future.

NEC has positioned the safety business centred on Bio-IDiom as a global-growth engine in its 2020 Mid-term Management Plan, a three-year medium-term management plan up to FY2020. NEC has also strengthened business under the NEC Safer Cities initiative. In the future, NEC will continue to focus on the Safety Business to expand its social solutions business.

In order to collect the fingerprints of newborn children within a few hours of being born, NEC adopted a high-resolution image sensor with a high-resolution imaging element of ten micrometres, and combined special glass for enhancing patterns. This made it possible to capture high-definition images of ‘valley line’ patterns of approximately 20 micrometres.

In order to eliminate blurring due to the movement of newborn children's fingers during the fingerprint capturing process, the frame rate was increased from the previous two frames per second (fps) to a seven frames per second rate, and the sensor area was equipped with a blurring prevention function. 

In addition, NEC adopted specialised equipment that is optimally designed for newborn children, featuring contours that ensure that children’s soft fingers are not pressed strongly against imaging surfaces and guides that ensure the most appropriate direction and position of a subject's finger.

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