Hitachi, Ltd. last month announced the development of a rapid ID scanner that identifies people by the veins in their hand, allowing people to be quickly identified with a wave of the hand.
There are some well-known biometric recognition systems out there, like fingerprints, retina scans and facial recognition, but this is different. According to Hitachi, everyone has finger veins in various positions and orientations that make them as unique as a finger print.
Hitachi had developed a vein recognition system, where people simply waved their hand over a scanner, much like supermarket scanners that read a universal price code. The problem was there wasn't enough processing power to rapidly analyze the vein patterns and match them to a database.
Thanks to some faster processing power, it is now possible to realize high-throughput and high verification accuracy in a large scale. The new Hitachi scanner can process up to 70 people (or hands) per minute.
The benefit is obvious. If you use a fingerprint or retina scanner, you have to stop and wait for the scan to complete. You also had to hold still. With the Hitachi system, just wave your hand over the scanner as you walk past and you are immediately recognized.
Hitachi is positioning this scanner as an ideal for trains/mass transit, where people have long-term passes, or for airports, convention centers, or sports stadiums, where security is needed. But there is another potential use: point of sale systems. Forget NFC, your hand can't be forged or hacked (hopefully) and certainly not lost (hopefully) like a smartphone.
Imagine never having to whip out a super market rewards card, then your debit card, then enter your PIN any more once you are set up in the system. You would just wave your hand over a scanner and the supermarket knows you, gives you the rewards points and charges your debit card. All with the wave of a hand.
Whether this ever gets out of Japan is also a question. Japan is known for a lot of great inventions that never leave its shores. So we'll see if this ever comes west.