Lots of you mentioned that when you go to high school next year you will be paying for your lunches through fingerprint recognition. We chatted about this and had lots of questions about it.

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  1. How do you think fingerprint recognition works? Think about the hardware needed and then the software and coding – decompose it…
  2. What advantages does paying with your fingerprint have, instead of using cash? Think about benefits for you, the school and the school caterers – why choose a fingerprint?
  3. Your fingerprint provides “biometric” data about you. Find out what this means and what other types of biometric data could be used instead.
  4. Who has copies of your fingerprints and why might this matter to you?
  5. “Schools and colleges must now ensure that written consent is obtained from parents before a child’s biometric data is taken and used and must make alternative arrangements if the request is refused.” As a child, are you happy with your parents taking this decision on your behalf? Why?

Sorry about the Apple advert but here’s an interesting video explaining how the iphone uses fingerprint recognition:

There’s some more information here.

Fingerprint activity sheet

Updates after session:

We discovered there are 3 types of fingerprint – Ulnar Loop (4 of us – 33%), Plain Arch (only 2 of us – 17% ) & Plain Whorl (6 of us – 50%!). In the main population, 60% have Loops, 5% have Arches and 35% have Whorls. We pressed our fingerprints on uninflated balloons, then blew them up to get a closer look!

Information we’d like before giving our biometric data away included:

  • Why do you need it?
  • What will it be used for?
  • Who will have access to it?
  • Will it be kept safe?
  • How long will it be kept for?
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About nic schofield

I’m a primary schools computing technician, interested in teaching children, their teachers & their parents, about IoT, computational thinking and implications of technology on their lives and encouraging children to think critically about technology to influence change in the world.

13 thoughts on “Fingerprinting

  1. I have watched this video like 7 times before, so I know the types of fingerprints, and how the iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 works. I think that the device recognises small complications in the fingerprint, like the Whirl, Arch, and Loop. It may use the size of each nano print that make the whole. Creases in the skin, is also a factor in this. The hardware should be as Apple have explained- a ring to tell the plate to start reading your print. It must work by changing the fingerprint into almost a combination of numbers according to each complication. That is why when you put your finger on the home button, and fingerprint scanner, the backup password is filled in automatically. I would choose a fingerprint for purchasing things like school dinners, because no one can steal it, and you cannot lose it, unless you are involved in unsafe activity. AKA- chopping your finger off. Fingerprints, if they are stored in a lot of places, can become very vulnerable to random people being able to access it via the stored data. Biometric data can be used with facial recognition. I would actually be happy with my parents giving consent for my fingerprint because they know best. My dad is very aware of the dangers, so nothing bad would happen.


    • Shahzeb, thanks for all this information – I might have guessed you would have seen the Apple video before! With all new technology/ situations, it’s important to look at the advantages and also assess any risks – then make an informed decision once you have all the information you need. Ask all the questions you need and you are quite correct – your parents have all your best interests at heart and are very wise!


  2. I think this is very interesting.
    2. I think using a fingerprint is just as bad as a card, but just as good.


  3. There might be some sort of scanner that people program to scan fingerprints. Your cash could go anywhere and then they give you your food.


  4. i think it works by finding individual data that we cannot see,one of the materials are sapphire crystals and a steel ring to protect your finger.


  5. Answer 1: They are made by scanning for gaps in finger print lines and measuring and calculating how many there are.
    Answer 2: One the biggest disadvantages to paying by cash is you can’t lose a finger but you can lose cash! Also a lot of people (in circumstances containing food) also don’t like handling money which people have already handled.
    Answer 2: This is basically data that improves samples, models, fingerprints, similarity scores and inbuilt identification programs.
    Answer 3: TO BE CONTINUED:-)


  6. 1) I think it works by saving your finger print into a system. Each finger print will have a certain code and a different code. The hardware is a finger print scanner. It gets the code by measuring the width and the pattern’s. Using the measurements it will find out if the print is; ulnar loop, plain whorl or plain arch.


  7. 1. I think that fingerprint recognition works when the scanner recognizes key points in your finger. It then notes down a binary code with those points. To actually do the fingerprint, you would need a scanner that can match your fingerprint when you press it.There is a scanner called the optical scanner which shines a bright light over your finger and takes a digital photograph.

    2. The advantages of having a fingerprint scanner is that it is quicker and more simple to do. It also has a very high accuracy so that the scanning is sharp and specifically detailed. A disadvantage is that if the person’s is dirty, then it won’t recognize the finger.Another disadvantage is that if there is a problem with he/she’s finger (for example a cut), then the scanner can recognize something different.


  8. 2 If you’re handling money you don’t know where that money has been and it could carry high amounts of bacteria on it and then you might get a disease which isn’t good at all!


  9. 1I think it works by sensing your fingerprint and compares that to the fingerprints that unlock the phone


  10. Fingerprint recognition works by scanning and taking measurements that the human eye cannot see. You may need something to protect the scanner as you wouldn’t want it to break or get dirty. When it senses your finger print it runs a scan and it will match you to your fingerprint in the database. The advantage if your’re paying for food at the cafeteria is that the people who give out the food wouldn’t have to touch money which is incredibly dirty, this means the food you eat will stay clean. a fingerprint is a good idea if you don’t want to get germs in your food.
    A fingerprint is a type of biometric data, this is a piece of data that is taken from a physical part of your body, so it’s biological data.
    The main issue on fingerprints is who you’re giving your data to, so if you want to pay for your school dinners with a fingerprint. Have a think about who you’re giving your data to, your school or a private company dealing the food. Even if it was the school what would they do with it?
    To be honest, I don’t know if my parents a familiar with the risks, I might even need to tell them. But I trust my parents to do what’s best for me, they are my parents after all.


    • Some great descriptions, thank you Riccardo. With all new technology/ situations, it’s important to look at the benefits and assess any risks and then make an informed decision once you have all the information you need. Don’t be afraid to ask questions (I know you’re not!) and you are quite correct – your parents have all your best interests at heart and are very wise!


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