By kenkranz on Mar 21, 2008
I think that the placement of the finger print scanner on my laptop (and, presumable, on other devices that are starting to roll out to the public) are in the wrong spot. Specifically they are being placed right of the keyboard. This is being done, presumably, because 85-90% of the population is right-handed (reference).
All computers come configured for right-hand mice – again, presumably, for the same reason. Most mice end-up placed on the right side of the keyboard – again, same reason. Therefore; it only makes sense that the fingerprint reader is also placed on the right-hand side of the keyboard - right? I didn’t give it a second though when I received my first computer equipped with a finger-print reader.
After a year of constant use, I have come to the conclusion that this mindset is totally wrong. My experience has been that, as the year progresses, the fingerprint on my right hand changes. Yet, during this same period, the fingerprint on my left hand has not changed – at least from a scannability standpoint. At first I though that the scanner was malfunctioning. It took a while to realize that my fingerprint (something we are taught is unique and, by association, is invariant) was changing. Evidently, it turns out, that this is a known phenomenon (reference) in the industry.
How do I gauge this? Over the course of the past 14 months; I have had to reteach my right-hand index fingerprint three times. Yet, during this same period, I have been using the same left-hand index fingerprint that I taught it on day one. During this time a pattern has slowly emerged. As the season progresses, my right-hand index finger starts to fail the scan more often. Eventually, the only way I can pass the scan is to switch to my left hand or retrain my right hand. Note: I might have better luck with other fingers, but the index is the most convenient to use.
Clearly what is happening is that, since we use our dominant hand more often, it is exposed to harsh environments more often – as compared to the passive hand. Consequently, over time, the unchanging fingerprint becomes distorted by dry and/or broken skin.
With this knowledge; I think it makes more sense that we should be scanning our non-dominant hand. Consequently; vendors should be placing their fingerprint scanners left of the keyboard. What do you think? Has anyone else had the same experience as me? If so, let me know.