Facial recognition technology would update airport and military security

Facial recognition technology is increasingly important at airports and border checkpoints. But it may be coming to the battlefield as well.

AOptix, a developer of advanced optical technologies and products based in California, announced that Morpho, a high-technology company of the Safran group, has become an AOptix strategic partner in the area of biometric technology. With this agreement, AOptix products, including the combined face capture and iris recognition system, InSight Duo, will be integrated into Morpho’s solutions offered to countries around the world to check the identities of persons crossing their borders on land, sea and air.

Morpho provides advanced solutions for border control, detection, identity management, criminal justice, and secure biometric access.

“For years, we have respected AOptix’s commitment to innovation in enhancing iris usability in biometric identification systems. The match between our two companies is natural as we unite to offer biometric solutions for a vast array of applications,” says Bernard Didier, Senior VP, Technology & Strategy at Morpho. “Combining the knowledge and expertise of our two companies in iris and facial recognition solutions will offer tremendous benefits in security and time savings for governments, airports, airlines and the traveling public.”

According to an April 20 press release, AOptix solutions already process tens of thousands of biometric transactions per day in the aviation security and immigration control applications, and have helped to transform the biometrics market. “Morpho has always been on the leading edge of biometric identity solutions for border control and aviation security,” says Dale Bastian, Vice President of Sales at AOptix “It has an impressive global organization, and will be a key partner for AOptix as we deploy our systems in high throughput applications around the world.”

AOptix and Morpho are demonstrating their automated authentication and identification technology at the Passenger Terminal Expo in Vienna, Austria, April 18-20, 2012. Airports and border crossing points are becoming increasingly more concerned, and sophisticated, at using various technologies to recognize terrorists and potential terrorists. Whole-body scanners, metal detectors, and ‘sniffing’ devices that recognize explosive materials, are among the tools used.

Biometrics refers to technologies that recognize individual human traits, such as:  fingerprints, retinas, distance between pupils. There are a number of companies in several countries working on technologies utilizing recognition applications. Already in Europe, some airports (such as the Schiphol airport in the Netherlands) use biometric technology to recognize passengers through iris scans.

Investors are avidly looking at facial recognition that can be used, for example, for images posted at Facebook. Viewdle.com is among companies offering facial recognition for smartphones, for example. Applications of biometrics and facial recognition are not limited to military and law enforcement applications.

A U.S. firm based in Maryland has been offering similarly sophisticated technology to the U.S. and Israeli military that could transform the modern battlefield. Based in Frederick MD, ACAGI Inc. has what it calls an Image Acquisition and Exploitation Camera System that will allow troops to identify enemies and friendlies at a glance through an eyepiece attached to a helmet or assault rifle. Facial recognition technology recognizes the face of those captured on camera, and can identify people by the distance between the pupils of their eyes. This information is then downloaded into a database of known criminals, terrorists, and enemies and alerts the trooper wielding the recognition system and the weapon of a match, based on an immense database.

 Peter Spatharis, the CEO of ACAGI – who served in the Greek army and has been long involved in both defense and telecommunications is confident that the system can be of great utility to law enforcement and defense.  The IAECS software, produced by an undisclosed outside company, maps nearly 30 points on the human face, such as the distance between the eyes, creating an equation that is compared with those in the database. If the system does not find a match, it stores that person's biometrics (dubbed "marking and tagging") for future reference. "This is always a problem -- you walk into a village, and who have you seen before?" said Spatharis, an engineer and mathematician. "In this war on terror you don't know who your friends are, who your enemies are. There are no units; it's everywhere and nowhere."

The ACAGI system cannot be used to scan entire crowds and pick out known terrorists, but the user can point the camera at an individual and see any matches in the database on the small lens near his or her eye in real-time.

The entire system, including the battery, central processing unit, camera and eyepiece, is portable, weighing less than 7 pounds and able to fit inside a small pouch. The cost for the system varies. Options for the ACAGI system include a built-in Global Positioning System (GPS), speech recognition and 3-D sound recognition.  Experts in the field of facial biometrics note that three factors: pose, illumination and expression, must be taken into account. The best recognition is obtained when the subject in the lens is directly facing the camera with the eyes open, and with even illumination on the face. A neutral expression is also best. The age of the stored photo on the database and the distance between the camera and subject are also important factors. "In the real word it's not as precise or as reliable as the TV industry has portrayed it," Spatharis told local media.

The Defense Department now greatly relies on biometric systems to replace traditional locks and keys in theatre in Iraq and Afghanistan, even while real-time facial biometrics in warzone security systems (current systems require analysis of video footage to be done after-the-fact), are not now being deployed. Comparison of the photographs of known terrorists with persons being held for interrogation can take up valuable time in the field.

Secure I.D. cards embedded with facial photographs, fingerprints, iris scans and other information now screen people entering U.S. military installations, thus offering a measure of security.  Even so, biometrics are not foolproof and do not replace military diligence. In 2007, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device that killed eight people in the dining hall of Iraq's parliament in Baghdad’s heavily guarded Green Zone, home to the U.S. Embassy and the Iraqi government.  Unfortunately, on that day the security scanner at the Green Zone's entrance was not operational.


 

Filed under crime, science, terrorism, crime, police, airport, travel, us, eu, austria, Global

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