At Mission’s Sylvester Powell Community Center, show your veins to get in (yes, we said veins)

You may need to show your veins the next time you want to work out at Sylvester Powell Community Center in Mission. That’s right, your veins.

The small vein reader that will be used at Sylvester Powell Community Center.
The small vein reader that will be used at Sylvester Powell Community Center.

When the community center on Martway goes live next week with a new management software, part of the system will be a finger vein reader that will be used for check in of members and guests. To enter the building for a class or to use the gym, members will place an index finger into the small vein reader which will identify them by their vein pattern. That will display their membership information on a computer screen for the staff at the desk.

Now, each member punches in five-digit number to enter the building. When the new system goes live, they will be asked to have the veins in an index finger “read” to use as a match for future visits. The reader does not take a fingerprint. The vein patterns are different in each person so the reader can identify individuals.

Christy Humerickhouse, Mission Parks and Recreation Director, said some people might see it as too “big brother,” but the information can’t be shared with anyone else. Security was an underlying reason for the change. Each month, she estimates, as many as 200 people are using the building without being enrolled in a class or a paying member. They use another member’s number or act like they are checking their name off on a class roster.

Besides the revenue lost to the center, the unauthorized entries mean that in an emergency the record of who is in the building is not accurate. The system will be used for members and people taking classes: the screen will display classes in which a non-member is enrolled. People coming in for meetings can still go to the meeting without using the system.

The other option considered for building security was a swipe card, but that meant carrying the card around while working out and dealing with the problem of lost cards. “You usually take your finger with you,” Humerickhouse said. The system will be used at the new outdoor pool when it opens next summer.

As the transition begins, the center is providing the following information to patrons to explain the new system:

What is a Finger Vein Reader and how does it work?

This device safely reads finger vein patterns found underneath the skin that are unique to each
individual. The Reader works by passing near-infrared light through the finger. This is partially
absorbed by the hemoglobin in the veins, allowing an image to be recorded on a CCD
(charge-couple device) camera. The CCD’s underlying technology converts photons into
electrons creating a computer algorithm to generate a secure numeric pattern. The resulting
pattern is then matched with an encrypted database record to authenticate a person. Since
every person’s vein patterns are different, this technique of authentication is virtually impossible
to forge.

The features of finger vein authentication are as follows:
● Finger vein patterns are unique to each individual, even among identical twins. The false
acceptance rate is very low.
● Because veins are located inside the body, it is extremely difficult to read or steal. There
is little, if any, risk of forgery or theft.
● Finger veins do not leave any trace during the authentication process and so the cannot
be duplicated.