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MorphoTrust enrolls 1.5 million drivers in HTAP

MorphoTrust enrolls 1.5 million drivers in HTAP

Editor / Provider: MorphoTrust | Updated: 7/31/2013 | Article type: Security 50

MorphoTrust USA (Safran), the exclusive enrollment services provider to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in support of the Hazardous Materials Endorsement Threat Assessment Program (HTAP), announced that it has enrolled a total of 1.5 million commercial drivers at 135 enrollment centers. In this program, screened, trained and vetted trusted agents collect the biographic and biometric data for the 200,000 truck drivers who require a Hazardous Materials Endorsement on their commercial driver licenses each year.

In 2004, TSA launched the HTAP program in response to the USA PATRIOT Act. With this law, Congress directed TSA to perform fingerprint-based background checks for truck drivers who haul hazardous materials. TSA created HTAP as an "agent service" offering that allows states to either participate or create their own solutions to meet this mandate.

In June, the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles announced its intention to begin using the TSA's HTAP agent service later this year. With this commitment, South Carolina becomes the 40th state to elect the TSA's service since the program's inception.

TSA first selected MorphoTrust to provide the HTAP service in November 2004. In 2012, TSA selected MorphoTrust as the prime contractor to transition multiple programs, including HTAP and the Transportation Worker Identity Credential, into a consolidated service with convenient locations for individuals requiring enrollment and registration for programs serviced by TSA – Universal Enrollment Service.

“Universal Enrollment Service is the embodiment of MorphoTrust's commitment to simplify, protect and secure the lives of Americans as we ensure the identity of transportation workers in a highly secure, yet convenient way,” said Bob Eckel, MorphoTrust CEO. “With our experience with these programs, and others that require the vetting of individuals with multiple biometrics, MorphoTrust is well positioned to deliver solutions of this significance and sensitivity.”


Morpho biometric SmartGate secures passenger processing in Auckland Airport

Morpho biometric SmartGate secures passenger processing in Auckland Airport

Editor / Provider: Morpho | Updated: 7/24/2013 | Article type: Security 50

Morpho (Safran) launched the SmartGate Plus trial at Auckland International Airport in New Zealand in June 2013. SmartGate Plus is Morpho's next generation automated border control solution based on the use of biometric technology. New Zealand Customs Service (NZCS) will be testing the system during an operational trial at Auckland Airport with over 2,000 passengers per week expected to trial SmartGate Plus.

Since 2009, New Zealand's Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch airports have been using SmartGate to give eligible travellers the option of self-processing through passport control. The system uses facial recognition technology to compare facial images of the traveller against the data contained in the e-Passport's chip. The project has been a great success with the travelling public, with six millions travellers having used SmartGate, and over 70 % of eligible travellers currently using the system.

SmartGate Plus brings additional convenience as it speeds up traveller processing with a one-step process, eliminating the kiosk and ticket part of the current system. It uses e-gates that have a smaller footprint to meet the space constraints of airports whilst also having Morpho's latest workflow and biometric matching software. In addition to this, is the solution's ability to add other biometric capabilities such as fingerprint and iris recognition at a future stage.

“The success of SmartGate in New Zealand has been phenomenal with 6 million people having successfully used the technology since it was introduced in 2009, says Geoff Wilson, Customs Manager Passenger Facilitation at New Zealand Customs Service. “The biometric self-processing technology has streamlined passenger processing and provided a secure, efficient way to clear passport control and we are pleased to be involved in testing the next generation SmartGate Plus.”

“SmartGate Plus is a clear reflection of our collaborative approach with New Zealand Customs to create, build and deploy the next generation in border control solutions”, stated Bruno Pattyn, Managing Director of Morpho's local subsidiary, Morpho Australasia. This new technology has the capability to further simplify and speed up border processing in order to meet ever-evolving border challenges across the region.”

Idaho regional airport upgrades identity and access management with Quantum

Idaho regional airport upgrades identity and access management with Quantum

Editor / Provider: Quantum Secure | Updated: 7/17/2013 | Article type: Infrastructure

Friedman Memorial Airport (SUN), which provides air service facilities to South Central Idaho and the Sun Valley resort area, has become the first airport in the country to implement Quantum Secure's new Aviation software.

Officially launched May 15, the physical identity and access management software solution is expected to save hundreds of man-hours for airport management by streamlining the complete lifecycle of physical identities and automating related processes.

Daily oversight of security provisions at SUN is handled by the Airport Security Department. Among their many security activities is ongoing supervision of approximately 1000 identities including airport and airline employees, in-house and external (i.e. taxi, cargo) vendors, government employees, hangar owners/associations, sublease tenants, temporary construction workers and more. Per TSA mandates, each individual must undergo a TSA-adjudicated Security Threat Assessment before SUN airport operators can issue any type of personnel identification media. Individuals must be vetted on a continual basis to allow for a comparison of new threat information.

Before Quantum Secure's implementation, SUN's approach to enacting these requirements was entirely a manual process. The labor-intense activity involved multiple data entries of the same information into the various airport security systems: the Physical Access Control System (PACS), security check system, computer based training systems and biometric fingerprint capture system. Airport personnel were spending more than 90 minutes per person for new enrollments and more than 45 minutes per person for badge renewal procedures.

According to Ajay Jain, Quantum Secure President and CEO, with the software suite the data is entered only once and the relevant information flows through to all applicable systems and business processes. The software allows SUN operators to perform new enrollments in less than 15 minutes per person including all related processing such as document scanning and biometric registration. The software can also perform renewals in less than 10 minutes.

The system was also able to streamline the procedure for completing the mandatory reverse audits that were previously being completed manually through the U.S. Postal Service. SAFE can automate the process, reducing the expected time for SUN staff to initiate a full or partial audit to 10 minutes. For added convenience, the audits can be scheduled to run on a quarterly or half-yearly basis.

SUN's security workflow system with which SAFE is integrated includes security checks through TSA's Transportation Security Clearinghouse; SSi computer based training systems; Safran MorphoTrust biometric fingerprint platform; and automated provisioning and de-provisioning to Lenel's access management after security checks and training pre-requisites have been completed.


Safran/Morpho and Interpol enter into strategic biometric partnership

Safran/Morpho and Interpol enter into strategic biometric partnership

Editor / Provider: Safran | Updated: 7/12/2013 | Article type: Security 50

A partnership agreement will see Morpho (Safran) provide INTERPOL with a range of innovative biometric solutions and other technical support to enhance global security. The partnership covers the supply of automated biometric identification systems to INTERPOL, provision of state-of-the-art security solutions for the future INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI), as well as collaboration on the subject of border security.

Under the five-year partnership, Morpho's cutting-edge facial recognition technology will also be provided to INTERPOL as an additional criminal identification tool.

INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said the constant and fast-moving evolution in biometric technology meant that private sector expertise and support through partnerships such as with Morpho were essential.

“As criminals employ ever more sophisticated ways to avoid detection, so too must law enforcement benefit from the latest advances in technology, especially in biometrics, to more effectively combat all forms of transnational crime,” said Mr Noble.

Since 1999, Morpho has provided INTERPOL with its Automated Fingerprint Biometric System (AFIS) enabling officers in all member countries to conduct checks and identify internationally wanted persons via INTERPOL's global network. Under the partnership, this system will be replaced with Morpho's latest-generation AFIS which includes enhanced capabilities and offers even greater speed.

Strengthening weak zones for total hospital security

Strengthening weak zones for total hospital security

Editor / Provider: Tevin Wang, a&s International | Updated: 7/23/2013 | Article type: Commercial Markets

With 24/7 operation, hospitals need to be open enough to allow the flow of patients and staff, while restrictive enough to prevent unauthorized people from entering sensitive areas within the building. Hospitals house pharmaceuticals, which need to be secured around the clock; patient records, which need to be protected; and infants in the maternity ward, who need to be monitored to prevent abduction. Security directors face a myriad of challenges as they strive to protect patients, employees, and visitors.

Hospitals are unlike other environments. “Hospital security is far more complex than simply understanding the threats posed to a particular facility based on its contents. It is important to understand how most hospitals manage access to specific departments,” said Scott Bartlett, CEO at Southwest Surveillance Systems. “There are typically two critical steps in a modern hospital. The first step is in the physical layout and construction of the hospital campus. Modern hospitals are built from the ground up with efficiency in mind. This means that the physical structure of the hospital facilitates proper security but does not hinder the productivity of the staff.

For example, a new hospital construction firm will interview the future staff of a new hospital to understand the typical workflow of an ER surgeon and the systems and facilities that she must access to effectively do her job. During this interview, the construction firm understands how to make the surgeon's job easier by ensuring that he or she doesn't have to cover great distances or traverse multiple security checkpoints to take care of their patients. The more work done during this phase, the easier it is to implement automated access control in the second phase. This is because it is very important for a hospital to balance security needs with its efficiency. This is a huge problem in older institutions and may present an opportunity for the right technologies.”

“The second step in securing a hospital is to implement some ID-based security policy,” added Bartlett. “This typically includes badging to identify a staff member's level of access or maybe even a magnetic key card that is used to provide electronic access to facilities housing information systems or other systems that contain patient information. Unlike financial institutions or intelligence firms, hospitals cannot be locked down, due to the nature of the health care business. Staff members must be allowed to quickly and efficiently navigate the hospital campus to ensure positive patient outcomes.”

Management with Access Control
More hospitals today choose an enterprise-level access control system to streamline their operations. By replacing keys with access control credentials, health care security directors can improve the security of pharmacies and data centers by knowing who accessed a specific area, in the event of an incident. “The main focus of access control in hospitals falls on two things,” said Matt Vellek, Southeast Regional Sales Manager at AMAG Technology. “First, the importance of controlling access to sensitive information or critical areas of the hospital is high. Secondly, having the audit ability to identify who was granted access to those areas is increasingly important for investigatory and audit ability reasons.”

Pharmacies, for instance, may need to be able to demonstrate traceability of drugs. “Nurseries need to restrict access to authorized staff and family members, to protect the safety of infants,” said John Davies, Managing Director at TDSi. “Psychiatric wards need to restrict entry to unauthorized people in order to protect the vulnerable patients and also to monitor and restrict the exit of patients who may be unsafe leaving the area unaccompanied. Any areas using radiation or dangerous substances, such as X-ray rooms, need to guard against unauthorized access due to the hazards present.”

Unified Video
Hospital security is complex and electronic access control alone cannot solve all security problems. Surveillance sees new uses in hospitals. Areas such as the ER, parking lots, and entrances need to be constantly monitored to ensure that patients and employees are safe. In addition, hospitals should thoroughly consider the location of security monitors to ensure full viewing by the appropriate personnel so security officers can respond swiftly to an incident.

“By implementing IP surveillance monitoring with integration to other information and access control systems, hospitals can monitor workspaces and even staff members through their workflows and trigger alarms or automatically secure sensitive areas from unauthorized access. To accomplish this, cameras would be installed in literally every functional space in and outside the hospital walls,” said Bartlett. “This is why HD network cameras will become essential to modern hospital facilities. One doctor we interviewed suggested that if cameras could trigger audits or access-control events based on badge colors, barcodes on a badge or maybe a particular image memory, then most access control could finally be automated without endangering patients.”

Taking access control a step further and integrating it with video surveillance turns these individual components into a powerful security management tool that can provide data to the hospital leadership. “Technology available today allows for the creation of different types of access for various departments to be established through the permission-based settings programmed into the software, which operates the hardware,” said Kenneth Mara, President and CEO at World Wide Security. “For instance, we can design a system utilizing biometrics to provide or deny access to certain employees designated to be in that area. We would also incorporate a camera to provide a clip, or extended surveillance, of the activity of that person in a high-risk or elevated-security area. There are many reasons a hospital may need to know who is coming and going, such as where pharmaceuticals are stored or where medical record information could be compromised.”

HD Picture of Health
HD cameras provide direct benefits with higher clarity and resolution. Analog cameras used to be for point protection only. With HD quality, cameras have a wider field of view. This is changing the need for PTZ, with fewer costs less for labor, materials to install and operation, said William Plante, Director of Professional Services at Aronson Security Group.

Hospitals often have good working relationships with local police, who may request footage of individuals during investigations. HD cameras may prove their worth for their superior video clarity. They may also lead to increased employee satisfaction, as personal property thefts could be investigated with better success, said Ben Myers, Director of Plant Operations at Deaconess Medical Center.

Biometric Identification
There is a requirement within hospitals to restrict access to specific areas, such as X-ray rooms and children's wards. In these areas, there may also be the requirement for multiple forms of identification before access is granted to add an extra layer of security, said Andrew Fulton, Senior Director of Global Sales at CEM Systems.

“For the highest security areas, hospitals can implement multifactor authentication including, for instance, biometrics, which increases the probability that an individual presenting a card to a reader is the same person to whom the card was initially issued,” said Sheila Stromberg, Director, Corporate End User Strategies at HID Global. “Since these identifiers, such as fingerprints, hand, and face geometry, or patterns found in the eye's iris, can't be borrowed or stolen, biometrics provide identity authentication with a strong degree of confidence.”

Control of restriction levels is more easily accomplished in a networked access control environment. “Biometric readers can be installed where needed, and as each user presents his or her smart card and fingerprint for identity verification, the entry records are uploaded in real time to the central server through a controller over a TCP/IP network,” Stromberg said. “If the system is based on an open architecture, the controller can also be integrated with other application modules for centralized management and reporting, enabling this biometric entry log data to be correlated with other information.”

Precise Biometrics receives order $1.4 million from Middle East

Precise Biometrics receives order $1.4 million from Middle East

Editor / Provider: Precise Biometrics | Updated: 7/8/2013 | Article type: Security 50

Precise Biometrics has received an order for hardware worth US$1.4 million (SEK 9.9 million). The order is an additional follow‐up order from an existing customer in the Middle East. The delivery of the order is split between Q2 and Q3 2013.

The delivery consists of Precise Biometrics' 200-series readers, combined fingerprint and smart card readers that will be used in a current government ID card project together with the Precise Match-on-Card technology.

The government is an existing customer of Precise Biometrics since 2004, when the company delivered the first volume order of fingerprint readers. Since then, Precise Biometrics has supplied fingerprint readers on a regular basis.

Safran/Morpho receives certification for fake finger detection

Safran/Morpho receives certification for fake finger detection

Editor / Provider: Morpho | Updated: 7/3/2013 | Article type: Security 50

Morpho (Safran) announced that it has become the first company to achieve Common Criteria certification* for fingerprint spoof detection in a biometric device. Certification of the MorphoSmart Optic 301 fingerprint reader by German certification body BSI** means that the device has gone through a rigorous analysis and testing process in order to meet the industry's highest standards for spoof detection.

The MSO 301 fingerprint reader integrates advanced patented technology which analyzes specific features of the human skin to detect and reject spoofing attacks. The device is used in a wide range of applications including access control in sensitive areas, border control and bank transactions (cash withdrawal and payment), which require the highest level of security.

“With the wide deployment of biometrics and the rise in identity fraud, Morpho has been advocating the need for rigorous evaluation of anti-spoofing devices. Being the first in the world to achieve this certification is therefore a major milestone for us”, said Philippe Petitcolin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Morpho.

*Common Criteria: internationally recognized criteria (ISO standard 15408) which define a common framework for evaluating and certifying security features and capabilities of Information Technology security products. The certificate complies with BSI protection profile BSI-CC-PP-0062-2010.
** BSI (Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik): the German Federal Office for Information Security is an independent certification body.

Safran/MorphoTrust announces new contracts with Florida, Maine and Michigan

Safran/MorphoTrust announces new contracts with Florida, Maine and Michigan

Editor / Provider: MorphoTrust USA | Updated: 6/28/2013 | Article type: Security 50

MorphoTrust USA (Safran) announced a series of fingerprinting contracts with potential to yield up to $54 million in revenue over the next six years. The new contracts with the Maine State Police and State Bureau of Investigation(MSPSBI), the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget, and the Florida Department of Financial Services (FDFS)support MorphoTrust's mission to simplify, protect and secure the lives of Americans through partnerships with key government and private institutions to verify identities of individuals and ensure trusted transactions.

The contract with the MSPSBI covers a pilot program of fingerprinting services to state agency employees, such as the Department of Education, with the initial goal of 10,000 to 15,000 enrollments per year. This program will free valuable state resources by giving applicants autonomy to schedule their own appointments with a variety of payment options, such as credit card, debit card, e-check, money order, or personal check. MorphoTrust will also provide its automated criminal history processing and reporting solution, which will significantly improve delivery times and eliminate the need for manual work in most cases. The two-year contract can be renewed for an additional three-year period with potential to generate $7.7 million in revenue over the full duration of the contract.

The contract with the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget will provide fingerprinting services and a data interface to all end-using state agencies, including: the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs; Michigan State Police; Michigan Department of Community Health; Michigan Department of Human Service; Michigan Department of State; Michigan Gaming Control Board; and Michigan Department of Corrections. These agencies will use MorphoTrust's fingerprinting services to conduct background checks on job applicants and existing employees in accordance with Michigan state law. Enrollments are projected to increase from 63,000 to 170,000 applicants per year, including legacy business. The three-year contract is worth over $6.8 million and can be renewed for two, one-year periods.

The contract with the Florida Department of Financial Services covers the fingerprinting of insurance agents statewide. Approximately 68,000 applicants will be fingerprinted per year through a total of 69 third-party enrollment centers in 61 cities across the state. The three-year contract, valued at approximately $600,000 per year, can be renewed for three additional one-year periods. MorphoTrust has been doing fingerprinting work with the State of Florida for more than 10 years.

“Fingerprinting has been a significant growth business for MorphoTrust and it's no wonder why,” said Charles Carroll, senior VP of MorphoTrust's services business. “While fingerprinting is just one way we can establish identity and reduce fraud, it is a proven method of keeping criminals out of business and protecting the American public, including vulnerable groups like our children.”

For each of these contracts, applicants will be fingerprinted at a convenient IdentoGO Center. IdentoGO Centers by MorphoTrust provide a one-stop-shop for a growing number of identity-related services through a nationwide network of safe, professional and convenient locations. Spanning all 50 states and US territories the primary service offered in each center is the secure capture and transmission of electronic fingerprints.

Seeing your face everywhere

Seeing your face everywhere

Editor / Provider: Christine Chien, a&s International | Updated: 6/12/2013 | Article type: Tech Corner

Seeing the noninvasive, face-capturing benefits, different verticals are incorporating face recognition into their settings, acting as access control devices or identification tools. In each different setting, users must be perfectly aware of their environments and the dynamics surrounding it. Users need to know that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. Each environment requires its own customized settings and calibrations in order to guarantee maximum accuracy and security.

Most of the time, a correct selection, planning, installation and configuration of the cameras in a given scenario drastically reduce the sources of failure, said Carles Fernández Tena, R&D Project Manager of Herta Security. Common failures are also caused by incorrectly operating the system, such as the wrong adjustments of parameters and thresholds, or enrolling subjects with low-quality images. “In this regard, some sophisticated facial recognition systems currently incorporate automatic quality control modules and self-healing techniques to detect and rectify such misuses,” Fernández further explained.

The biggest problems are related to the lack of knowledge from users which can create frustration and anxiety, turning what could be a quick process into a time-consuming task. “The use of graphic aids, including video animations, can drastically improve the overall experience,” said Marc Spiegel, Regional Head of APAC at Vision-Box.

Matters of privacy can be an area of high concern for some users; this accentuates the importance of educating users on how biometric templates are stored, as they are often misled and think their data are open to theft. “Sometimes, users fear their biometric information will be stolen, but chances of that are unlikely because their raw data is actually configured to a digital code and saved in the database, instead of just the raw data,” asserted Raj Venkat, VP of Cards and Credentials at Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies.

City Surveillance
Employing facial recognition alleviates the work load of operators by simply sending out an alarm once a wanted criminal or target has been identified from the crowd. India's safe city project intends to cover several of its cities extensively by surveillance systems that can recognize faces and detect wanted criminals or terrorists, and flag off a centralized control room. Other surveillance systems put up by the police, other agencies and third parties, such as hotels and retail multiplexes, will be integrated as “databases.”

Even though the Tsarnaev brothers, responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing, were actually in the FBI database, the facial recognition software failed to recognize the perpetrators due to the poor picture quality of their faces that were mostly angled away. With rising awareness and installations of HD cameras, facial recognition for similar situations in the future will prove to be much more successful.

Law enforcement agencies can further take advantage of mobile devices, such as handhelds or smartphones, performing recognition on-the-go to further facilitate accuracy improvements and calibrations.

Event Security
Large-scale, open events — often sports-related — are prone to terrorist attacks; employing the right level of security measures is crucial. The capacious area increases the difficulty for the human eye to make out specific targets among the sea of faces. By utilizing facial recognition, security guards will be able to locate those on the blacklist or VIP list at an accelerated rate.

The upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup, scheduled to take place in Brazil, portrays the scenario perfectly. The country was determined to make the tournament “one of the most protected sports events in history,” shelling out US$900 million for the event. With the hefty fund, the country bought US military robots, Israeli-made drones, high-tech surveillance, and facial recognition glasses that can capture up to 400 images per second to be stored in a database of up to 13 million faces. The system is designed to match known criminals and terrorists. Currently, the guards are already being trained to properly operate these devices.

Airports and Border Control
Not only are facial biometrics used as part of the identifying process for national IDs and biometric passports, they are used in airports and border control as well. Now, biometric recognition is incorporated into solutions that are “designed to automate the secure and fast flow of passengers through restricted areas such as security and border checkpoints,” said Jim Slevin, Aviation Business Unit Manager at Human Recognition Systems (HRS). Recently, HRS deployed its system at Edinburgh Airport to assess the flow of passenger traffic through its security screening area to help address the bottleneck queues, though it was initially used as a performance measurement tool that anonymously measures how long people spend in queues and dwell areas of the airport.

“The same solutions when designed sympathetically can offer benefits for both security and passenger differentiation — the ability to identify and tailor journeys on an individual traveler basis,” Slevin added. Facial biometrics are used in airports to facilitate the passenger's check-in to departure experience. After recognizing passengers who are enrolled in the service, texts will be sent to the passenger and guide them through the process of self check-in and baggage drop-off, all the way until the passenger arrives at the correct departure terminal and goes through the gates. Enrolled passengers are often frequent flyers who are offered this opportunity as a part of the perks, in a sense, treated like VIPs by being able to avoid long wait time.

Other e-gates allow for integrated or a combination of facial, fingerprint and iris recognition, and can be used at any country entry/exit point, Spiegel added.

Retail, Banking and Gaming
Operators will be able to analyze their customers based on their facial expression. Retailers will be able to register and create a watch list for shoplifters or VIPs. Shoplifters will be immediately escorted out of the stores when they are identified, while VIPs will be treated with the greatest shopping experience that can be provided. “As soon as you walk into Macy's and get to a certain area, they already know what you like and your buying preferences. I think there will be a lot of great technologies introduced in the next five years!” said Mizan Rahman, founder and CEO of M2SYS.

Banks will be able to use facial recognition for identifying criminals in order to prevent robberies. Customers can also be identified for better services and accessing ATMs and safety deposit boxes. As for online transactions, Facebanx has developed a new online facial recognition solution that will enable banks, payment processors, and insurance and ID verification companies to dramatically reduce fraud and ID theft. Users simply need to add their face to their account via the camera from their electronic device, such as a mobile phone or laptop webcam. Each individual's face is recorded by a video stream (rather than stills), and the technology compares the multiple images taken throughout the recording to confirm the person is real and not a spoof by a photo.

In the gaming sector, a few years back, certain Canadian and Singaporean casinos started to use facial recognition to track down and identify gamblers who have put themselves on a self-exclusion list. The facial recognition software instantly scans photographs taken by a dedicated camera as visitors pass by a security desk, looking for matches with pictures of gamblers who have put themselves on the self-exclusion list. If a match is found, a silent alarm goes off, the matching photos pop up on a computer screen, and security guards compare them. Once the guard verifies the match between the visitor and the image on the screen, they will ask for the identification of the individual before escorting him or her from the facility. For those who have not been placed on the list, their photographs are instantly discarded. The cameras with facial recognition are also used for identifying VIPs, cheaters, as well as authorized personnel in the cashiers and vaults.

Facial recognition for automobiles has been heavily researched and tested so it can be incorporated into onboard cameras in order to track the driver's pupils and facial orientation to detect head movement, eye direction and blinking patterns. If the system senses the driver is about to fall asleep, it will issue an alert for drivers to pull over to the side of the road. For driver convenience, BMWs use facial recognition to adjust to each driver's customized settings, such as steering wheel height, seat position, mirrors, and even turn on his or her favorite radio station. However, there are some problems to tackle, such as where to best position the camera to capture the face again immediately after being obstructed by the driver's hands and steering wheel. Adapting to changing lighting conditions is no small feat either, since cameras have to be able to continuously capture the driver's face even as she drives through a tunnel, into the sunset or after dark.

Biometrics face off

Biometrics face off

Editor / Provider: Christine Chien, a&s International | Updated: 6/11/2013 | Article type: Tech Corner

According to MarketsandMarkets research, global biometrics market revenues are anticipated to reach US$20 billion by 2018. Increasing security requirements for public security such as border control management, national identity cards, e-passports, Internet and network access, and financial transactions are acting as growth drivers. As of now, fingerprint is the most commonly adopted form of biometrics, but face recognition will most likely become its successor in the years to come.

The global biometrics market is expected to grow at an estimated CAGR of 22.9 percent, as compared to the facial recognition market growth of 27.7 percent during the period of 2013 to 2018. Over the next six years, facial recognition is predicted to become highly pervasive, ubiquitous across its ecosystem, and penetrating the market to a huge extent, according to MarketsandMarkets.

Facial recognition, one of the oldest forms of biometrics, had been slow to gain widespread adoption due to the problems in accuracy and reliability often found in its algorithms. However, the dynamics revolving around the use of facial recognition is changing, as government officials and commercial sectors are starting to realize the convenience in using facial biometrics for various purposes. Its appeal stems from the contactless, noninvasive nature when capturing and recognizing an individual, but also from its similarity to how humans recognize each other — through the face.

Because of its enhanced accuracy, flexibility of being used in all environments, and the public's higher tolerance for it, the speed of adoption shall only accelerate.

Main Purposes
For one-to-one identification, face images are used in combination with video surveillance in a controlled situation. Ideal sources of controlled environment for image capture include motor vehicle agencies, visa and passport agencies, mug shots, background checks, and surveillance cameras placed at “choke points.”

For one-to-many identification, facial recognition algorithms have experienced noticeable improvements through continuous attempts to address commonly associated problems in uncontrolled environments.

“Facial biometrics is one of the most promising technologies to be widely adopted and more generally affordable in the short future, given that capturing of samples can be done at relatively long distances and without any participation on the subject's part,” said Gary Lee, International Business Development Manager at Herta Security. With the ability to operate from afar, facial recognition is used to conduct passive recognition where no real cooperation is needed from subjects to detect and collect their faces in a real-time surveillance video — and start the match against databases of unwanted personnel or the “blacklist.” Areas with large crowds, heavy traffic and high throughput will be more effective if a separate mode of recognition can be incorporated into the surveillance solutions to further ensure maximum accuracy.

When it comes down to identifying an individual against an entire or multiple databases, facial recognition drastically enhances the chances of locating a match. Database will continue to expand, not only because of the likes of the FBI's billion-dollar next-generation identity program, but with the help of social media and retail sites where users upload images for a virtual makeover. This allows operators to access dozens of photos of individuals from varying angles and settings. The growing computational powers ameliorate the process of scanning these massive databases.

Challenges and Limitations
As with all technology, using biometric devices and solutions has challenges and limitations, whether it is due to the algorithm itself or operational errors. Carles Fernández Tena, R&D Project Manager of Herta Security, mentioned some improvements on the way. “One will be the ability to process very high-resolution imagery in real time. This will result in higher image quality for identification, more opportunities for matching the short apparition of a subject against the database, increased bandwidth capacity for processing either a greater number of channels or larger frames with the same resources, and the development of more sophisticated algorithms that are not currently possible due to the existing computational limitations.”

Some other problems include the cost of employing facial recognition devices or software. The technology in search applications usually faces more challenging conditions such as lower resolutions, variability in pose and expression, changing illumination and larger occlusions, which result in higher costs. “Depending on the reliability and functionalities of access control systems, their price range is typically between hundreds and a few thousands of dollars,” Lee stated. According to Alf Chang, Senior Consultant at a&s, current cameras can detect faces up to six or seven meters. Identifying individuals from a long distance can be problematic if the cameras do not have high enough resolution. If users wish to detect or identify individuals from farther away, they must invest in cameras with higher resolutions.

2-D vs. 3-D
3-D recognition is the newest form of facial recognition to have emerged over recent years; however, the debate on its use continues to exist. By employing 3-D recognition, it is able to address some of the common problems faced by regular 2-D recognition, such as lighting and facial angle, and provides additional information to facial analysis. In turn, this could lead to more accurate recognition.

"The basic idea with 3-D facial recognition is that a biometric template based on unique geometry of a person's face can be readily stored on a database, for access control, and compared with a ‘live' analysis to identify the person in question,” said Anna Stebleva, VP of Business Development at Artec Group. “3-D facial recognition is fast, contactless and accurate, and this combination of features caters fully to the needs of the access control market today.”

As of now, 3-D facial recognition is still in the research stage for the most part. “Very few applications are actually incorporating the use of 3-D facial recognition. Capturing and storage of 3-D templates are more complicated than with 2-D technology. It is also an expensive approach for access control or any other applications, so it still remains a technology in search of a true application event,” according to Jim Slevin, Aviation Business Unit Manager at Human Recognition Systems, who thinks 3-D can be extraneous for regular access control and one-to-one verification, but remains attractive for forensics and postevent analysis of surveillance footage.

“The main limitation of 3-D technology is the very high cost and limited working range of the sensors required to make it accurate enough,” Fernández said. “This breaks with some of the traditionally attractive characteristics of 2-D facial biometrics: long-distance operability, multiple identifications in crowds, and relatively cheap deployments in distributed architectures, given that cameras have become a commodity.”

Some also believe that 2-D and 3-D can coexist. “In uncontrolled environments, 3-D can address some of the problems. 2-D, with some of the advancements we've had, like something as simple as IR-based images, has already advanced a lot and are already doing well,” said Mizan Rahman, founder and CEO of M2SYS. “We may not need to replace all of the 2-D systems, and they will continue to exist in some capacity. 3-D is more effective because it is not constrained by end-user training; 3-D systems are able to handle unexpected environmental conditions.”

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