Seeing the light
The U.S. military often uses fingerprint scanners at security checkpoints in Iraq and Afghanistan. Advanced Optical Systems in Huntsville, Alabama, has developed a device that can make the verification process safer for soldiers. Unlike standard fingerprint scanners, which work only when a hand is in close range, the company's AIRprint device captures fingerprints up to 6.5 feet away, in less than five seconds. The device could allow soldiers to verify prints from a safer distance, even from behind a blast wall. Advanced Optical Systems has demonstrated the AIRprint for U.S. Marine Corps officials, who hope to field-test the device.

Hands off
The AIRprint, which measures 6 inches long and 4 inches wide and deep, has an LED bulb (on top) and two cameras: one that captures light bounced off a finger's ridges and one that captures light bounced off the valleys. It sends images to a computer equipped with software that combines them to create a print.

Say cheese
Starting this summer, Advanced Optical Systems plans to market the AIRprint to companies looking for efficient ways to control building access. AOS also hopes to test the device with police departments.