Bridging the Identity Gap Through Design

The Simprints Vero Scanner: A biometric scanner designed for use in the World’s toughest settings

By Matt Durbin, Designer at therefore

The Simprints Vero Scanner in use

The Problem

Healthcare providers working in developing communities regularly confront challenges with patient identification due to lack of official documentation, common community names, unknown dates of birth and human error. This lack of basic information can prevent those same individuals from accessing fundamental services such as formal education, financial services and most prominently receiving appropriate healthcare — slowing any type of diagnosis and ultimately costing lives.

Field research in the slums of Bangladesh

Simprints’ Vision And Commitment To Impact

Simprints, a Cambridge University non-profit tech company, are committed to improving the lives of the poor and vulnerable by building the first ever low-cost, open-source, biometric system of its kind. Few companies have utilised biometric technology for applications in the Developing World, but with a system that provides 228% more accuracy than existing mobile scanners in low-resource environments, Simprints were intent on bringing that technology to the world.

“People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.” — Alan Kay

Early on in the process, Simprints recognised that human factors would be vital in optimising their scanner’s technological potential, as well as providing the most appropriate physical interaction between care provider and patient. The lack of suitable and available products led the team to embark on building a comprehensive biometric system with robust hardware optimized for context and open-source software compatible with any system that uses open standards.

Product development sketches of the Vero Scanner

Making A Difference

As with their product development, Simprints applied the same rigour in screening to find the right design partners for the job. By collaborating with therefore, Simprints showed they were confident in our ability to deliver a considered and effective product, from establishing the preferred design pathway to the final engineered solution.

from left to right: two volunteers from the Bangladesh medical services, Martin Riddiford (therefore Founder), Toby Norman (CEO of Simprints) and Sebastian Manhart (Dir. of Business Development at Simprints)
The entire selection of prototypes, ranging from hand carvings to production
The final version of the Vero Scanner, tested and completed in October 2016

Going Forward

Together with therefore and partners, in 2016 Simprints released the world’s first ever portable Vero fingerprint scanner that wirelessly syncs with a health worker’s smartphone. By being able to instantly link an individual’s fingerprints to their medical records, delivery of healthcare now has the ability to reach parts of the world it never has before, saving time, effort and potentially millions of lives.

The Vero Scanner in full operation with healthcare providers, Bangladesh, December 2016

Founded in 1993, therefore is a multi-award winning, London based product design consultancy.