We all know passwords are on the way out: partly because people keep stealing them and partly because by 2020, we'll have run out of ideas for new ones ("password must not be one of your 10,000 previous choices.")
In the future, it's likely we'll use some part of our bodies to identify ourselves – known as biometric identification – like the current fingerprint scanning on our phones, the iris scanning on the new Galaxy S8, and the voice recognition systems some banks have started to use.
Fujitsu is working on something it reckons is even better: vein scanning.
Their PalmSecure system takes a look at the veins in your hand and decides whether you are who you say you are. It uses a combination of image recognition and optical tech to see into your hand and scan your veins, including ones you can't see yourself. It's contactless, so you don't have to share hand grease with strangers – you just hold your hand over the sensor and it gets your vein pattern instantly.
It's also very secure. Fujitsu says the false rejection rate (how often it locks you out despite being the right person) is 0.01%, whereas the false acceptance rate (letting the wrong person in) is an impressive 0.00008%. For comparison, a rate of one in a million (0.0001%) is considered "high strength," and this is one in ten million.
There are advantages to veins being inside the body, too. It means they're nigh-on impossible to forge, and are unlikely to change in the way your fingerprint might if you burn your hand or get a paper cut, or your voice does when you get a cold. Your vein pattern is much less likely to change, although of course people can and do lose their hands – just a lot less often than they get paper cuts.
Fujitsu's been working on this tech for a long time, but it took a big step towards becoming part of our lives today, as AuthConductor – the software that adds palm vein authentication to existing systems – got a release date. It comes out next month, and makes it far easier than before to switch from older systems like magnetic or IC chip cards to veins.
Going forward, Fujitsu will make this software available for use in finance, as well as for entrance gates at facilities, ticket machines, and industrial equipment, among other applications.
Fujitsu's also built it into some PCs, and even in an optical mouse so you just put your hand on the mouse to log in.
Looks like fairground crystal-gazers were onto something: perhaps our palms are the key to our fortunes after all.