Sniffing out a suspect

Imagine a scene where investigators approach a suspicious person waiting in line to board a trans-Atlantic flight. He is wearing a hooded sweatshirt, oversized sunglasses and heavy gloves. Before he even says a word, the investigators have scanned the unobscured areas of his face with a surveillance camera. They picked up an odor signature as he approached a hidden sensor at the ticket counter and they covertly picked up his heart rhythms as he leaned against a metal handrail.

Hands-on access

A recent survey of passengers on Scandinavian Airlines, SAS, showed that fingerprint identification has become widely accepted. Over 70% of Swedish respondents who participated in a trial to validate their luggage check-in with their fingerprints were positive and thought that the system should be introduced full-scale to allow ticket-free travel and remote check-in. The respondents felt that convenience was the main advantage. In response, SAS has expanded the trial and is now testing the fingerprinting system on several key domestic routes in Sweden, to ensure that the checked-in passenger is the same person who boards the plane.

The human touch

Jamie and Adam have been at it again. In an episode of MythBusters on the National Geographic Channel, the two technically talented skeptical program hosts successfully defeated a fingerprint lock. They stole a fingerprint from the authorized user and then copied it on to latex, ballistic gel, and even photocopy paper. The most they needed to do to make their copies work was to lick them to defeat the lock's "live-ness" parameters. The blogosphere was bubbling with scathing commentary for ages—comments like, "Amazing, two guys just blow millions of dollars of research out the window."