UC San Diego develops fingerprint scanner for newborns

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — While fingerprint scanners are nothing new for adults, the technology has been more difficult to replicate on a scale fit for newborns.

Until now. UC San Diego researchers said Wednesday they've created a fingerprint scanner to capture prints of infants and children, even on the first day of birth.

The device, called ION, was built to accommodate for the size, movements, and behaviors of an infant without contact to the child's finger or palm, according to Eliah Aronoff-Spencer, assistant professor of medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

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"Not only did we take into account the child’s physiology and reflexes, but also what would be culturally acceptable in different countries. For example, in some areas, facial photography is shunned, but photography of hands is acceptable," Spencer said.

Other efforts to replicate the technology from adult devices have been unsuccessful. Though, ION can also be used for adults, making it the first device of its kind for all ages, according to the university.

The device is being improved on to eventually measure health biometrics and other data, such as temperature, pulse, breathing, and oxygen, UCSD said.

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"Accurate identification of a child to enable timely vaccinations can improve care, reduce disease burden and save lives," said Spencer. "Consider the usefulness of health identification to track not only vaccinations, but to aid or prevent infectious disease outbreaks."

The device is expected to aid especially in remote or limited-resource areas of the globe, and with efforts for disaster relief, human trafficking, refugee settlement, and migration.

ION is currently being put through clinical trials at UCSD and in Mexico. Researchers say the device has so far shown greater than 99 percent accuracy for registrations as early as two days after birth.

"The next stage is to take the device into the field in Africa and South Asia and broaden the populations we evaluate," said Spencer. "While the device is not yet commercially available, we hope to have it ready for market within 12 months."

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