What Are the Uses of Fingerprints?

It is possible to use fingerprints to track criminals, locate missing persons and to identify someone's DNA. Some banks also offer fingerprint access to accounts.

In criminal identification, fingerprints are taken from across the hand to identify the person if they commit a crime in the future. Authorities can do this using digital and ink prints. Using chemical processing, forensic scientists can look at the fingerprints left behind in dirt and other substances and electronically match them to those on their databases.

It is also possible to use fingerprints to track down missing persons. However, as children produce more waxy oils from their fingers than adults, their fingerprints disappear much faster.

A technique called DNA fingerprinting does not use fingerprints in the same manner. Instead, it refers to giving a blood sample so that geneticists can identify who someone's relatives are. It is also possible to track criminals using this method if their DNA is in a database. In addition, forensic scientists may use it to identify bodies that are decomposed, or when there is no ID available.

One of the more modern ways of using fingerprints is to gain access to bank accounts. In the UK, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Natwest allow customers to access their online banking using fingerprints through their smartphones.