Seven Important Functions of ID Scanners - What Must They Do?

Seven Important Functions of ID Scanners - What Must They Do?

ID scanners represent a specialized application of technology similar to ALPR (Automatic License Plate Recognition). They scan various forms of passports and other ID documents such as residency cards, drivers’ licenses, etc. They process the resulting images in unique ways to extract visual and invisible coded data to develop a record of the ID-holder. Document scanners should be able to check documents’ authenticity in multiple ways. Clever forgeries may be very difficult to detect.

Here are some of the features that the best of these scanners employ:

1. Scanning documents optically with varying types of illumination and removing imperfections such as reflections.

2. OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software that reads and recognizes text-based information.

3. The scanner should perform several levels of security checks on the images and coded data to ensure accurate validation of the document.

4. Many IDs include IPI (invisible personal information) embedded in images. The scanner must be able to extract and interpret this information. It also interprets data extracted from barcodes and RFID chips.

5. The scanner should be able to operate in a variety of light conditions.

6. The software should be trainable, so it can learn to recognize unfamiliar document types.

7. Connectivity with other devices such as computers, face-recognition devices, fingerprint readers, etc. In this article, we’ll examine each of these functions in more depth.

While it will take a paragraph or two to discuss each feature, a high-quality scanner accomplishes all these tasks in about two seconds! Adaptive Recognition’s (AR) Osmond, Combo Smart, and Combo Scan ID scanners use a proprietary passport reader software besides the adaptability to read many other documents. They require no special training for their operators.

Optical Scanning

The first and simplest task of document ID scanners is to take a digital photograph of the document. This image must be a perfect visual representation of the document. Glare, reflections, etc. can make the image useless. As we discuss other features, we’ll see the various steps taken by a good scanner to perfect the image.

Adaptive Recognition’s Combo Scan produces a high-resolution 500 PPI image with first-class clarity.

OCR to Interpret Text Data

Once the document scanner develops a clear image, the next step is to apply OCR (Optical Character Recognition). Using this software, it reads the numbers, letters, and other symbols and records them into a data file. This includes name, address, and other personal information. The document number and origin would also be in the visible data read at this stage.

Specialized OCR to Read non-Latin Characters

Since ID scanners are used everywhere, they should be able to identify characters in many different alphabets. Cyrillic and Greek are the most commonly used non-Latin alphabets in the western world.

Adaptive Recognition’s ID scanners have available add-on software to recognize characters in these non-Latin alphabets and Latin characters with diacritical marks (accents, etc.).

High-Level Security Checks for Accurate Authentication

A good ID scanner subjects the images and data to a variety of security checks to verify their authenticity. Just as with counterfeit money, a skillfully forged document can be very hard to detect. Poor ink quality, invisible imperfections in biometric images (photos, fingerprints, etc.), and incorrect patterns are clues to inauthenticity that a good document scanner detects.

Adaptive Recognition’s ID scanners check the MRZs (Machine-Readable Zones) for compliance with ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) recommendations. They also check biometric integrity, pattern matching, and IPI (Invisible Personal Information) decoding.

An optional software module is capable of checking OVD/OVI (Optically Variable Devices and Ink) as a further authenticity verification.

Interpretation of IPI Embedded in Images

Many images in passports and other identity documents have embedded information that is only readable with specialized technology. This information is called IPI, or Invisible Personal Information. Checking the authenticity of IPI Is an important function of the scanner’s security checks. If the IPI doesn’t match other information in the document or is improperly coded, it’s a red flag.

Ability to Perform Accurately in Varying and Difficult Light Conditions

In many applications, it’s convenient to place the scanner in a location where it may be shadowed by other equipment or in otherwise reduced-light conditions. Sometimes it will be in direct sunlight. Other activities around the scanner may vary the light conditions moment by moment.

A good scanner has the ability to read and adjust images to compensate for widely varying light conditions.

Adaptive Recognition’s ID scanners scan documents with infra-red and ultraviolet, as well as visible light to produce the highest quality images.

A good document scanner has the ability to filter out ambient light effects such as shadows, reflections, etc., to produce a perfect image. Adaptive Light Control is a New Feature of Adaptive Recognition’s ID Scanners and Passport Readers - photo credit Adaptive Recognition


New types of documents or newly revised ones complicate a scanner’s job. A good scanner should learn to recognize documents it hasn’t seen before.

An Osmond scanner’s smart OCR software can learn to recognize and process a new document after it’s seen the document 10-20 times. Many scanners on the market lack this capability.

Connectivity with Other Devices

An ID scanner is most useful when it can connect with other devices. Face recognition, fingerprint readers, and even voice recognition devices are often used in places where document scanners operate. Connecting these devices with each other adds utility to each one.

To summarize, ID scanning by ID scanners and checking for authenticity is a complex task. Forgers and fakers have many types of technology to produce fake documents that are virtually undetectable by the human eye. To produce error-free images and data, and to verify that the document and its holder are true as represented, document scanners must be even more sophisticated.

Check out Adaptive Recognition’s scanners and contact them to discuss your special requirements for your ID scanners needed.

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