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Palm Vein Scanning & Recognition: What It Is & How It Works

Palm Vein Scanning & Recognition: Thorough Explanation & FAQ — RecFaces

Palm vein scanning is a relatively new technology of biometrics-based personal identification. Although it is still not as well-known as facial recognition or finger scan technologies, its reliability provides it with the potential for gaining more attention and approval in the nearest future.

In this article, you will find the most basic information about principles of palm scanner's work, areas of its implementation, and also benefits and disadvantages compared to closely related technologies.

At the end of the article, you can find answers to the most common questions related to the topic as well.

Table of Contents

What Is Palm Vein Scanning? Definition & Meaning
How Does a Palm Vein Scanner Work?
What Can Palm Vein Biometrics Be Used For?
Benefits of Using Palm Vein Recognition
1. Security
2. Privacy
3. Accuracy
4. Reliability
5. Hygiene
Why Is It Better Than Fingerprints?
Advantages of Palm Vein Scanning Technology
Disadvantages of Palm Vein Scanning Technology
How does a palm vein scanner work?
What is a palm vein scan?
Is palm vein recognition accurate?
Who invented palm vein technology?

What Is Palm Vein Scanning? Definition & Meaning

Palm vein scanning, also known as palm vein recognition, is a modern authentication technology based on biometrics. It utilizes the unique patterns of veins which people have in their palms to serve as a means of personal identification.

Palm vein scanners make an image (scan) of veins inside a person's hand and then compare its pattern to the previously collected materials in the database.

How Does a Palm Vein Scanner Work?

The palm vein scanner technology utilizes the way deoxidized hemoglobin absorbs infrared light. Hemoglobin in the human body is responsible for transporting oxygen, and the veins transport deoxygenated blood to the heart. Therefore hemoglobin present in vein blood is deoxidized.

When the near-infrared light from the palm scanner is directed on the person's palm, hemoglobin absorbs its rays. The veins' capacity to reflect the light is reduced, and they appear like a black pattern on the image taken by the system. Then the system processes the image and compares the results with the data from the database.

The security concern which may arise here is that some of the palm vein recognition systems store data on people's palm veins as images without encryption. However, most reliable ones store it as encrypted templates, with decoding and recognition going on exclusively inside the scanner, which guarantees the safety of personal data.

What Can Palm Vein Biometrics Be Used For?

  • Personal identification. This type of biometrics-based authentication technology provides means to identify a person with more accuracy than face recognition or fingerprints.
  • Workforce communication. Palm vein recognition technology can be used in supervising and directing employees' actions, like checking the time of arrival to work or the time spent at the workplace.
  • Access Control. Prevention of unauthorized access to valuable information or equipment using palm vein scans is more secure than using passwords.
  • Healthcare. Palm vein scans can be linked to patients' medical history and used for identifying them and quickly accessing necessary information.
  • Banking. For financial operations held both online and offline, palm vein recognition can serve as a digital signature, effectively replacing other means of authorization.

Benefits of Using Palm Vein Recognition

1. Security

Given the possibilities of modern technology, many biometric identifiers, like face or voice patterns, can easily become subject to forgery.

However, palm vein patterns are hidden inside the human's body and, therefore, appear extremely difficult to capture without a person knowing it. This enhances the level of security and reliability of palm scanning as an authentication technology. Moreover, encryption of the data makes it less susceptible to being compromised.

2. Privacy

Unlike the face, which is visible to anyone in a public place, palm vein patterns cannot be scanned from a distance without a person's consent.

The procedure of taking a palm vein scan normally requires a subject's active cooperation (e.g., putting a hand in front of the sensor). In addition, even during the process, the pattern itself does not become exposed to the people around. This makes this technology less subject to privacy concerns.

3. Accuracy

The palm vein pattern is significantly bigger in size than those of the finger or iris. Consequently, the scan from it contains more data, which increases the accuracy of the identification.

For example, statistics show that the false rejection rate for it is 260 times smaller than for face recognition.

4. Reliability

Unlike many other biometric parameters (face, fingerprints), palm vein patterns are not likely to change due to some unexpected circumstances over the course of a person's life.

In addition, palm vein scanners are not particularly sensitive to external conditions like humidity, which minimizes the negative impact of random environmental factors on its performance.

5. Hygiene

One more important advantage of the palm vein scan process is that it does not require physical contact with the scanner. It becomes an especially attractive feature in cases when the scanner has to be used by a lot of people, so it would be difficult to keep it sterile.

Why Is It Better Than Fingerprints?

The technique of identifying a person by their fingerprints has a number of serious disadvantages. Fingerprints are easily affected by external factors, like aging, disease, or the state of the skin on the hands.

In contrast, palm vein patterns usually remain the same throughout the person's life. Therefore, the results of the measurements taken at a young age can serve as means of identification for years and years later.

Furthermore, collecting fingerprints requires direct physical contact with measurement equipment, which may become a means of transmitting contagious diseases. A contactless palm vein scan is free from this shortcoming.

Advantages of Palm Vein Scanning Technology

  • The procedure is fast and easy
  • It has high levels of security and privacy
  • The equipment is small in size and portable
  • The equipment is easy to install and manage
  • The results of the measurement are not affected by the state of the hand's surface
  • Data gathered from one measurement can be used throughout the person's life

Disadvantages of Palm Vein Scanning Technology

  • Can be highly-priced compared to the earlier technologies
  • Small database compared to the earlier personal identification technologies
  • Some health factors such as fevers can affect the quality of the image


Although palm vein scanning is still not as well known as some other biometric technologies, it is worth paying attention to. Palm vein patterns are unique to each person while hard to capture and imitate. Despite some minor disadvantages, scanning those can serve as a reliable means of authentication.

The main features of the palm vein scanning technology are the following:

  • Capturing unique vein patterns using near-infrared light
  • Providing biometric data which does not change significantly during the person's life
  • Contactless and fast way of verifying personal data
  • Unlike fingerprints, receives little impact from the state of the person's skin
  • Needs future development of databases and improvements of the image quality


How does a palm vein scanner work?

Palm vein scanners usually utilize near-infrared LED lights. When a person brings their hand close to a scanner's sensor, near-infrared light is emitted, and blood in the veins absorbs it. It allows an image of a dark vein pattern inside the hand to be captured. After that, the pattern is compared to those from the database to verify the person's identity.

What is a palm vein scan?

A palm vein scan is an image of a person's unique palm vein pattern obtained with special equipment. To protect the privacy of data, the image is usually stored as encrypted templates. Palm vein scans are used for personal identification.

Is palm vein recognition accurate?

Palm vein scan recognition is a simple and reliable way of personal authentication. Accuracy rates are higher than those for face recognition, finger scans, and most current biometric technologies. But, of course, there are some cases when the image appears blurred, which can negatively impact the accuracy of recognition.

Who invented palm vein technology?

Palm vein scanners first appeared in the 1980s, introduced by Joe Rice from Kodak company. However, at first, it failed to become a widespread technology. Vein scanners became a commercial product only in the late 1990s, and their implementation in different areas started in the 2000s.

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