From: Linda (email@example.com)
Date: Sun Jun 25 2000 - 11:23:44 PDT
A nose by any other name
Facial recognition software rolling out in wireless devices
By James Dukart, Office.com
Last Update: 3:58 PM ET Jun 23, 2000
NEW YORK (Office.com) --Just as with fingerprints, people's faces are
distinctly their own. A new generation of pocket PCs, personal digital
assistants and cell phones will use the measure of one's facial contours as
part of their security features.
Facial-recognition software for use in wireless and portable devices is
expected to kick open the door for e-commerce, law enforcement and other
Jersey City, N.J.-based Visionics Corp. specializes in biometric
technology. The company is developing a version of its FaceIt technology,
enabling devices to identify users and permit certain pre-qualified users
to perform various functions.
Visonics CEO Joseph Atick said the earliest prototypes are being
developed for U.S. law enforcement agencies that plan to use the system
to identify people stopped on suspicion of a crime. It only identifies
someone already in a law enforcement database, making it well-suited to
catch parole violators or repeat offenders, he said.
Within the next two years, the technology is likely to make a splash in the
e-commerce marketplace, Atick said. A device might use a camera to
send a "faceprint" back to a centralized database where a user already
voluntarily registered. Facial recognition would spare a merchant
burdening consumers with onerous credit checks, he said.
"You won't need to give out your credit card number or remember a
password," Atick said. "The system will be able to authenticate that you
are who you are and you will be able to do what you want and need to do
without all the hassles."
Richard Norton, executive director of Washington, D.C.-based International
Biometric Industry Association, said biometric identification and security
is being put to use in a number of industries.
"Biometrics is becoming more and more common," Norton said.
"We have been saying for years that a key market was to make sure people
could safely and securely log on, and the wireless network is going to be
an intrinsic part of the corporation network of the future. Biometrics has
gone through a typical progression from invention to experimentation to
the ability now to deliver a very cost-effective and highly effective product
to the market."
Atick said the system could also be used to verify identity for
consumer-to-consumer transactions, such as purchasing items from an
online auction site. Under this model, consumers would register with a
third-party authentication bureau, guaranteeing future transactions.
A quick makeover
FaceIt can produce a "faceprint" in 50 to 300 milliseconds, Atick said.
That print, he said, can be matched one-to-one with a faceprint on file in
less than one second. "One-to-many" matching -- as in the case of law
enforcement or surveillance -- can be done at 60 million searches per
minute via memory or 15 million matches per minute from a hard disk.
Faceprint identity checks are at least as secure as asking for a credit card
over the Internet or telephone, he said. Individual faceprints are derived
by a set of complex algorithms performed on up to 80 different "major
landmarks" on the human face, things that do not change over time.
"People's faces change, but their faceprint doesn't," Atick said. "The
faceprint is a measure of the spatial relationships between the major
landmarks of your face. You may wrinkle, but the space between your
eyes does not change, nor does the space between your nose and upper lip.
So it is extremely difficult to fool the system."
Visionics already provides facial recognition
technology to state agencies such as the West Virginia Department of
Motor Vehicles, which is using it to confirm identities when issuing new or
renewed drivers' licenses. The firm also installed a system in a London
borough that uses 400 closed-circuit cameras to help law enforcement
officials identify criminal suspects in public places.
The company also works with a branch of Wells Fargo Bank, which uses
facial recognition technology to authenticate users at cash machines.
Visionics is working with Microsoft engineers and product developers to
bring the technology to portable devices.
"It only shows how important it will be in an e-commerce world to know
who is on the other side of a transaction," Norton says. "You can encrypt
a file or use a smart card or passwords, but the only real alternative is to
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