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Your fate is in the palm of your hand

Do you believe fortune-telling can reveal your life and fate? For thousands of years, the Chinese have studied fortune-telling to delve into this mystery. Palm reading has been one of the methods used to foretell one's personality, fortune and health by reading the shape of and the lines on a person's palm. Prof David Zhang of the Department of Computing of Hong Kong Polytechnic University was inspired by the uniqueness of the palmprint and has developed the world's first civil Palmprint Recognition as a security device of identification by biometric means.

From today (January 11) to May 16, the Hong Kong Science Museum is running a new exhibition, Palmprint Identification System, featuring the operation and application of the system.

Palmprint recognition is one of the biometrics technologies used for recognising humans based on intrinsic physical or behavioural traits. As a human being's biological features cannot be easily altered or reproduced, the study of biometrics is significant. Biometrics authentication is mainly used in the identification and verification of identities. Identification is achieved by comparing data with records in the database to seek out the individual. Verification is a one-on-one match to prove that the individual is truly the person holding the identity.

The Chinese have been using biometrics authentication for thousands of years, although in ancient times, the format and situations of applying biometrics were different from today. In ancient times, potters impressed their fingerprints on their work, and clerks compiling records also put their fingerprints on the files they managed. Biometrics authentication originated from research on fingerprint recognition, which is the most widespread form of biometrics authentication technology even today. The first automatic fingerprint identification system was developed in 1960. Identification systems based on other unique human features such as face, iris, voice and hand geometry have since been developed. The development of the palmprint identification system helps enhance security systems, making them more rigorous and robust and creating a more secure environment.

The palmprint identification system identifies individuals by recognising the special features of their palms, which include geometrical features, principal lines, wrinkles, datum points, delta points and minutiae features. The system can recognise an individual's identity within 1.5 seconds (based on a database of 1,000 individuals). It is also easy to operate. The user puts his or her palm on the reader. The result will not be affected even if there are dirt or specks on the user's fingers. The system can operate in temperatures ranging from -10 degrees Celsius to 55 degrees Celsius.

Nowadays, the palmprint identification system is used in a wide range of applications, including employee attendance systems, physical access control systems for buildings, ATM machines, immigration control at airports and citizen identity cards. Although the palmprint identification system has already achieved great success, palm reading can also provide more information on fingerprints and vein patterns. Integrating data on palmprint and fingerprint, palmprint and veins, and palmprint and 3D palm surface will be the way for future development.

The Science Museum is located at 2 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East. It opens from 1pm to 9pm from Mondays to Wednesdays and on Fridays, and from 10am to 9pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. It is closed on Thursdays (except public holidays) and the first two days of the Chinese New Year. Admission is $25 with half-price concession for full-time students, people with disabilities and senior citizens aged 60 or above. Admission is free on Wednesdays.

For enquiries, call 2732 3232 or visit the Science Museum's website at .

Ends/Friday, January 11, 2008
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