IARPA has invited the biometrics research community to participate in the Nail-to-Nail (N2N) Fingerprint Capture Challenge. This official U.S. Government Challenge problem seeks to reward researchers for creating autonomous rolled capture devices whose images matched as good as or better than current operator-assisted rolled images. This project is being implemented as a collaboration between IARPA, NIST, and The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.
N2N, or rolled impression, fingerprint images capture the fingerprint surface area from one side of the fingernail to the other. This covers much more surface area than plain impressions, where the finger is pressed straight down, avoiding the sides and tip. This fact makes N2N impression images more suitable than plain impression images for use in making accurate identifications with latent fingerprint images (fingerprints left behind on objects long after their owner is gone). This is because in many cases, only the sides of fingerprints are left behind. Unfortunately, N2N impressions today require a skilled operator to capture and significantly more time than capturing plain impressions. The IARPA N2N Challenge aims to encourage industry to come up with new and innovative ways to capture N2N imagery fast and without a human in the loop. In turn, IARPA hopes that these devices can be deployed wherever fingerprints are captured, increasing the usefulness of the databases they are used to build.
NIST is responsible for all aspects of image and data analysis for the N2N Challenge. Using a high-performance large-scale distributed matcher, NIST will search traditional rolled and latent fingerprints against an enrollment set of traditional rolled fingerprints, augmented with images from the N2N Challenger's devices. NIST analyses will be used to award prizes, like one for systems producing the most accurate matcher performance. For those Challengers that do not wish to use the U.S. Government-provided matcher, NIST has created a template generation and matching API that can be used to submit a custom implementation. The better of the two system's accuracies will be used for prize calculations.
In September 2017, N2N Challenge competitors will converge on Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory to capture fingerprints from hundreds of members of the public using their prototype devices. The subjects will also handle a number of household objects to leave latent fingerprints, which will be lifted by trained crime scene latent fingerprint experts. These images will be fed into NIST analysis tools to award Challenge prizes.
Once the challenge is complete, many traditional rolled, latent, and N2N images from Print Provider participants will be made available for the research community. Watch this space for future updates.