Biometric Security: The Eyes Have It

Carl Weinschenk

This very interesting article from the MIT Technology Review describes the Face Recognition Vendor Test (FRVT) 2006 and the Iris Challenge Evaluation (ICE) 2006 face-recognition contests. The related competitions were sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and results were recently released.


The main point is that "face-recognition algorithms" -- the core computer smarts necessary for a machine to tell one person from another -- have improved tenfold since 2002 and a hundredfold since 1995. The bulk of the piece is a very well done look at the nature of the improvements. The bottom line seems to be that facial recognition will become an ever-more useful tool.


The main thrust of the story is technical, but the author traces some potential commercial uses of face recognition. Suffice it to say that the companies in the competition -- which include Toshiba, Samsung and Neven Vision, which recently was acquired by Google -- are serious about commercializing the technology.


Potential uses of face-recognition mentioned include finding people with suspended driver's licenses who are trying to use phony names to get new ones, integration with photo services and, in the longer-term, searching for specific faces recorded by surveillance webcams.


An oddity about the story was that it didn't mention the use of facial recognition as a form of second-factor identification for laptops and other mobile devices. The overall category of using the body for identification -- biometrics -- so far has focused on fingerprint identification. A more futuristic approach, iris recognition, is used in some instances. A drawback to iris recognition is that it requires the subject to get uncomfortably close to the reader. Hopefully, the entrants in the competition addressed that challenge.


The term "second factor" can imply that biometrics is simply additive to passwords. The reality, happily, is that it brings something different to the table. All a password proves is that the person accessing the machine or the network connected to it has the correct password. How he or she got it -- whether it was legitimately given by the company or stolen from a Post-it stuck on an absent employee's screen -- is not dealt with. Facial recognition would close that loop and determine if the person with the password is or isn't the authorized user.


Earlier this month, Digi International and Sensible Vision unveiled a system which uses a combination of facial recognition software and a USB camera to eliminate passwords and other security procedures.


The most interesting element of the system is that it apparently doesn't add biometrics as a second-factor identification. Instead, it replaces existing security. It is unclear if employees will be able to turn the camera off. If the answer is yes, unauthorized users could take control of the machine. If the camera always is on, civil rights advocates, unions and employees almost certainly will object to the possibility of continual surveillance.

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Jun 1, 2007 1:00 PM LA SHORTS FEST LA SHORTS FEST  says:
LA SHORTS FEST CALL FOR ENTRIESCREATIVE COMMERCIALSDeadline: JULY 1, 2007 entry fee: $275Submit online at www.lashortsfest.com323-461-4400 The 11th annual Los Angeles International Short Film Festival is proud to announce the return of our creative commercial competition. Last years commercial competition was a big success- in all 53 of the finest commercials from top ad agencies around the world screened at the 2006 Festival. ADWEEK sponsored a panel discussion moderated by ADWEEKS creative editor Eleftheria Parpis that included creative directors, commercial directors and producers discussing the possibilities and pitfalls found in advertising today. The winner of the competition was Love Story submitted by ad agency: The Furnace / Client: Herringbone.The deadline for entry is July 1, 2007. Entry fee is $275 and the entry form and submission guidelines are available online at www.lashortsfest.com Commercials are short films in their own right and should be looked upon not only as a selling mechanism, but as works of art and be recognized and awarded as such! Robert Arentz, Executive Director, LA Shorts Fest About UsLA Shorts Fest is the largest short film festival in the world. The Festival is accredited by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Festival winners in the primary categories are eligible for Academy nomination. The festival boasts an outstanding past record of 25 Academy Award-nominated films, including the last 8 Oscar winners. Through a variety of yearlong activities, LA Shorts Fest educates, entertains and honors those who have mastered the craft. The Festival has honored some of Hollywoods legends of the past: Charles Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, and Robert Wise; along with actors Martin Landau, James Woods, Gary Oldman and directors Jan de Bont, Tim Burton, Bryan Singer and Paul Haggis. The Festival annually attracts more than 10,000 moviegoers, filmmakers and entertainment executives looking for the hottest new talent as well as brand name sponsors looking to connect with the trendsetters in Hollywood. Reply
Oct 16, 2008 6:32 PM mizi mizi  says:
i need more iris recognition of biometric system information..can supply more of it..thanks.. Reply

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