Have you ever been annoyed with your brand new biometric safe?
Did you think you were going to be able to get a great first time recognition rate by just programming one scan into its database?

In this article I will be leading you through the ins and outs of the different types of biometric scanners, the swipe and the whole pad styles, and giving you practical tips that will help you make your scanner more reliable. I’m giving you this advice based on using a biometric gun safe that can store multiple scans.

Types of Biometric Scanners

There are two common types:

Swipe Style

These require you to run the pad of your fingerprint across the opening of the detector and records an image based on the details found on your pad. As it records a swipe the actual image recorded that it compares subsequent unlocking attempts against is also dependent on the speed, pressure and angle that it is recorded at. This style of scanner is usually found on smaller and cheaper models and one can store many more types of these scans in a database as they record much less detail than the full pad style.

Full Pad Style

This type of scanner is what many people see in the movies, you hold your finger against the scanning pad while it reads and compares it to a previously saved image in the database. If you get a match then it unlocks. Usually found on the larger more expensive models, these record images in much higher detail and therefore you don’t get to store as many different scans compared to the swipe style. As it is just recording a stamp of your finger the positioning of your finger on subsequent access attempts is important. However because less variables are in action, you are in a stationary position and the pressure does not matter so much, then these types of scanner are more reliable.

Steps to Improve Fingerprint Recognition

If you are having problems with the biometrics on your model there are a few steps you can take to resolve them. I have heard of people going from as little as 40% second time recognition to 90% first time recognition by following these simple steps.

Different Angles

Firstly if you haven’t already, take more scans. Don’t just repeat the same angle either, by programming in different angles you can make it easier for you to match one of the saved scans. For pad style you want to turn your finger slightly in relation to being completely flat so that the database has a record of your pad being slightly off flat. This brings down the need for consistency and again lowers the amount of variables involved when attempting access.

For swipe style scanners you want to be doing a similar thing but swiping you finger down. Make sure to record multiple angles of your fingerprint scan, luckily you have the advantage in that you can store more scans.

Different Pressures

Try using different pressures when recording your fingerprint. By pressing harder you will transmit and more information and detail to the scanner and the final image of your fingerprint. If you vary the pressure then you will have more images to be compared to and you don’t have to be so correct with your form when using the scanner.

Program Scans after Mounting

If you are mounting the safe to a specific surface and you know it is going to remain in that position then a really important tip is to input your scans after it is attached so you know the angle you will be trying to open the safe if you are in a panic. Say you have hidden the safe in a drawer then you want to be programming it while it is in the drawer.

Practice, Practice, Practice..

It cannot be said enough just how important practice is at getting great consistent first time acceptance rates, you are the biggest variable after the image has been input into the safes database. The safe can only match your fingerprint if it is scanned in a very similar way to other recorded images. To help you get practice it is good to have a ritual where you check the biometrics on the safe at least once a day by maybe replacing your handgun (if you are using it for that purpose) inside or checking on your valuables.

Some models such as those from Gunvault use an algorithm that will update over time to include more detail of your fingerprint so the more you use them the better they are. Barska typically use full pad style scanners which are reported to be very reliable.

Final Words

So now you have our steps that you can take to improve your experience with these types of safes, it is common for the problem to not be the safe but the owner and by doing all that you can do, the product will function much better.

Make sure you consider which type of scanner will be best for you, the swipe style requires a bit more practice initially to get right but the models are generally cheaper and the full pad styles are easier to use but have less space for fingerprints and are more expensive.