Palm vein authentication goes kart racing

Net 2017,  2017-09-21

Fujitsu’s PalmSecure palm vein authentication is currently being tested in the X30 kart races. The aim is to speed up the drivers’ registration as well as the authentication process alongside it – and also say goodbye to long waits in line. The reliable and innovative palm vein authentication brings the karting events to the digital era.

Karting

With about two hundred kart drivers competing, X30 Challenge Finland is the biggest and the most popular karting series in Finland. Karting is a popular pastime, but it also serves as an important stepping stone to higher-class racing series, all the way to Formula 1. All the successful Finnish F1-drivers have hundreds of karting races behind them on their homeland tracks.

During the event, the PalmSecure palm vein authentication developed and patented by Fujitsu is being tested in the participant registration and data management. PalmSecure is a biometric authentication system, which is based on the unique vein pattern in the user’s palm.

Palm vein authentication greatly improves the logistics of the race, especially as there are so many different stages where the participants are required to be securely identified. The goal is to streamline the registration and identification process and at the same time make long waits in line a thing of the past.

Testing in extreme conditions helps in further development work

Seppo Pekkala, Systems Architect at Fujitsu, is an active kart racer himself, and his two sons have often joined him in the races. Pekkala has also coded the timing system for the races, which is used in the results service and the racing events management.

Karting events are not just about driving. Among other things, they involve registrations, handing out tires, inspections, and drivers’ briefings. It is absolutely crucial that in all the different stages only the right data is handled with the right people.

”Last winter, when I was coding an update for the timing system, I thought about logistics a lot and if there’s any way we could connect palm vein authentication to it. We weighed the idea together with Mikko Laine, the deputy race director and promoter in the race organization, and realized that this might indeed be a good solution in more ways than one. Besides being a reliable authentication method, PalmSecure is a relatively simple system and easy to transport. All you need is an authentication server and a workstation to go with it. What is more, the race would be a great test bench for Fujitsu’s research & development given the challenging conditions and an optimal number of participants,” Pekkala says.

Karting ja PalmSecureAfter making the decision to test palm vein authentication, the first trial took place in the X30 Challenge Finland in Kouvola in April. The many valuable lessons learned there helped them prepare for the next race, which was held in Lahti on June 11-12.

”In Kouvola, the environmental conditions took us pretty much off-guard, and there were some other unexpected surprises too, so things didn’t exactly go as planned. It was cold, wet, and extremely light at the same time. The drivers came to register, their hands blue with cold. One of them had just changed the chains for their engine, and you could see the imprints of the rear chain in their palms,” Pekkala says.

“Another challenge had to do with the configuration of the scanning device. The drivers’ age range varies from six to 60 years. Most karting drivers are still children or teenagers, but the palm vein scanning device is fine-tuned for grown-up hands. Fortunately, there are alternative devices available, so we are going to try another model in our tests next.”

Karting ja PalmSecureData communications were also causing problems in Kouvola.

”On Saturday, we had dozens of young drivers lined up for registration with pockets full of mobile phones and other mobile devices. Even though everything went smoothly in the tests, there was too much traffic in the wireless data link, which caused a jam in the real situation. On Sunday, we managed to fix it by setting up a wired connection between the palm scanning device and the authentication server,” Pekkala sums up.

The race in Lahti in June was the biggest karting event in the X30 series so far. It hosted nearly 250 drivers and guardians altogether.

”In Lahti, the authentication system was already considerably faster and more reliable. The PalmVein system was able to identify almost all the participants,” says Yki Mansnerus, Systems Specialist at Fujitsu. In the photo, he shows one of the young drivers how palm vein authentication works.

On Sunday, Dariush Moghadampour from Vaasa won the final race in the X30 Senior series. He thought the palm vein authentication is a good and practical solution, but he also criticized it.

Karting ja PalmSecure”The device could be even more sensitive. But all in all, the system looks good and I could see it being used in many other places too, especially where security is needed.”

On the right is Dariush’s father, Hojat Moghadampour.

The testing provided exactly the kinds of results the testers were looking for in the first place: to find out how the solution works in extreme conditions.

”We learned a lot and have gone through our findings with our Japanese colleagues. We are developing the software and making adjustments to the authentication tolerance. We collect log files from the events, and if we encounter any areas that are not operating satisfactorily, we can analyze the reasons behind the problems. In the future, we can prepare ourselves better for the environmental conditions. All the new data we get helps us also in our other application areas,” Pekkala says.

”Along with the introduction of the F-Pro-sensor model this summer, the system becomes all the more reliable. It’s half the size compared to the previous model and also more sensitive and faster,” says Mansnerus.

Playing tricks gets more difficult

Palm vein authentication is used when the drivers register to the event and sign up for the drivers’ briefing. Furthermore, there are plans to develop a self-service point where the participants can edit their personal details, change the model of the chassis or the transponder number. A transponder is a signaling device, through which the timing system measures lap times at different sector points.

”Sometimes these guys like to pull pranks on each other in the races, by changing the transponder numbers for example. Now, with palm vein authentication, it’s going to be much harder when everyone gets to edit their own details only,” Pekkala says and gives out a little laugh.

In every race, the drivers’ briefing is an important event to which every competitor and their guardian is obliged to sign up and attend. In these meetings, the organizers go through the regulations, safety issues, timetables, and exceptions to the regulations with the participants.

“In all the official championships, everyone’s identity will be checked. It’s a slow process when you have to find a person’s name from the list and then mark that person arrived. With the help of palm vein authentication, the process gets much easier, and drivers’ briefings can start sooner.”

Promising times ahead

With two test races behind them, Toni Orrainen, Manager of Fujitsu’s Enterprise & Cyber Security Unit, sums up the promising results.

”Our work is well underway. The karting drivers’ palms have now been registered into the system, so in the future they can smoothly register to the events. Once they arrive at the race, they show their palm to the device and can then go tune their cars. As this is a new system to everyone, it’s taken us some time to guide the participants in how to use it and why. But when we’ve gone through the process once and explained why it’s needed, the drivers have given a thumbs up to it.”

”I’m sure there will be a growing interest towards an easy and secure authentication method among other series, classes, and organizations. It’s an excellent solution that fits many other purposes and contexts, where users’ recognition is a definite requirement,” Orranen says.

 Further information: Toni.Orrainen (at) fi.fujitsu.com

OT, PV

Images and video: Kalevi Ohmeroluoma

More Information
info@fi.fujitsu.com

Published in the Net Magazine 2017,  2017-09-21

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