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The Biometrics Consortium event is run by various departments in the U.S. Government. It is not often that there is a conference which spans academia, many branches of government and the commercial sector. Yet, the unusual nature of this event is a reflection of the scope of biometrics and the role that it plays in government and beyond. There are multiple tracks on applications, standards, research and technology. With each year the exhibit improves and this year a number of companies are from overseas.
Biometrics To Enter the Mass Market
In one of the most bullish reports on the applications of biometrics to commercial and consumer markets, AuthenTec’s President and CEO, Scott Moody, predicted that there would be 10 – 20m computers equipped with biometrics in a few years. In a novel twist he predicted that the fingerprint sensor would provide navigation on notebooks which has joystick-like operation and scroll wheel control.
Scott claims that 2006 will be the year that biometrics achieves critical mass in consumer and commercial markets.
Scott expanded considerably the potential use of the biometric
The power of touch summarized his major points:
Rather lofty goals and claims but plausible if biometrics, i.e. fingerprint sensors, become ubiquitous.
Consider this. What if fingerprint sensors were used for navigation? This would not only accomplish identification but the persistence of the finger on the sensor for navigation would assure presence and an unbroken use of the machine since log on.
NIST – Setting the Standard in Biometrics Technology and Application
The WAVE reported from last year’s Biometrics Consortium event, the FRGC (Face Recognition Grand Challenge), whose goal was to improve facial recognition performance by a factor of 10 – getting close to fingerprints. In an early report, Jonathon Phillips, NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology), reported on impressive improvements.
NIST has been at the forefront of being an independent test, evaluation and standards supporter of biometric technology. Much of this has been driven by the Patriot Act. Shashi Phoha, Director, Information Technology Laboratory, NIST put NIST’s role in context:
We seldom hear someone advocate accelerating the rate at which a technology reaches maturity. But in the case of NIST and the application of biometrics, this is logical. That is, the technology is widely available, the prices have been driven to the lowest points and standards are mature. Thus, it is possible to deploy large scale systems which focus on use and not the technology.
Jonathon described a number of initiatives at NIST. The FRGC program has an objective and goal of:
The FRGC effort has many components:
The modes examined included:
The baseline performance in from FRVT, Face Recognition Vendor Tests, 2002, was a TAR of 80% with a FAR of .1%. Initial results from FRGC show:
There will be a Face Recognition Advanced Study Workshop, November 11 – 14, 2005, at West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV. The objective is to identify the next steps in face recognition.
The other effort described is ICE – Iris Challenge Evaluation. Its gorals include the assessment of the technology and facility technology development. It will be modeled after FRGC and FRVT 2005. The end result is hoped to be improved recognition algorithms.
Christopher Miles, NIST, described a number of activities at NIST. These include:
Large Scale Biometric Systems
Joseph Atick, President and CEO, Identix gave a thoughtful and interesting presentation. Some of the key points included:
DigitalDefense – Is this the first Ambient Biometrics product?
DigitalDefense was showing an impressive smart card which seemed to have it all. It is a non-contact smart card, with enrollment on card (EOC), template on card (TOC) and match on card (MOC) for $149. It was claimed that a “large” deal for mass market use will be announced in January.
The specifications are impressive.
It was stated that these cards are well suited for FIPS 201. One of the advantages of the card is that since it is completely held by the individual privacy is not an issue. The card can output, based on MOC, whatever is required by the application. This includes a PIN, Log on id and much more.
Pricing is quite sensitive to volume and DigitalDefense recognizes that mass markets must be a far lower prices.
Standards and Testing
The scope of biometrics standards is extensive. What was impressive is the progress in the last year. The government is driving the standards process to avoid vendor lock in and to have consistent repeatable performance. This is the same as that which enterprise users of biometrics will eventually demand.
Consistent with the NIST intent to drive biometrics to maturity, the standards process is making headway. One of the most interesting is the adoption of profiles, as part of the INCITS M1 standards process, similar to what was so effective in Bluetooth. Two interesting ones are for Point of Sale Biometric Identification and Commercial Biometric Access Control. With the progress being made in e-Authentication, we wonder if domain logon is on the horizon for this as a candidate profile.
There were many presentations on standards and testing. Key points will be highlighted.
On the Exhibit Floor -
Sarnoff Makes Iris Real
Sarnoff showed the much anticipated Iris-at-a-distance technology. One just walks through a portal slightly larger than a standard airport magnetometer. Bingo. One is authenticated or rejected.
There have been rumors on the Iris portal and now it is real. It is called Iris on the Move (IOM). This will support up to 20 individuals a minute. One only has to open one’s eyes as they walk through – some will have to remove glasses. It will support gaze as much as 15 degrees off axis. Individual’s varying in height from 5’3” to 6’3” can be accommodated. Sarnoff is looking for a partner to commercialize the technology. As shown on the exhibit floor is looked commercial grade.
Fujitsu – Palm Vein Recognition Makes U.S. Landing
Fujitsu is using autofocus technology to image palm veins into is notebook domain log on sensor.
The IR sensor being advocated for use in notebooks is 1” X 1” by ¾” (deep). What is key is that there is autofocus built in which is claimed to negate the need for a hand placement jig. Thus, an individual only needs to move the hand up and down in proximity of the sensor and it will autofocus at right location to detect the full palm.
Verifi Touts Enterprise Support for Fingerprint Readers
Touting a driver embedded in Windows XP, Verifi was showing their USB fingerprint readers. This uses the AuthenTec sensor in a robust metal case. It is claimed that the sensor can be moved from system to system and perform identification as required. Further, there is also a waterproof case available. Price is $70 in 1,000 unit quantities.
Digent – Optical Fingerprint Reader on a Mouse
This Korean based company has the IZZIX VM 1000 optical mouse with an optical fingerprint sensor. It images to 500 dpi and creates a template of 480 bytes. An SDK is available for use on Windows and costs $2,000. The IZZIX Secure PC software package provides for:
This software comes with the mouse.
The sensor is on the side of the mouse and best suited for the right hand thumb.
All 22,000 Samsung employees are using this product.
Pricing is $60 for 10,000 units FOB Korea.
Nevenvision – Portable ID Device
Slightly larger than a PDA, the Mobile Identifier contains an impressive set of capabilities:
The unit is only 13.6 oz and has a battery life of 8 hours. Communications include: Bluetooth, USB and 802.11g.
There were significant promising results from the Biometric Consortium conference. In particular, standards are having the impact of lessening vendor lock-on and the drive for standards-based components and systems is even reaching the enterprise level. Governments and high volume users of biometrics are driving the role of standards. As NIST stated, we want biometrics to be a mature technology. This is counter to what many companies seek to achieve with proprietary solutions and technology. At the Biometrics Consortium conference the buyers are winning.
There are early indications that mass market use of biometrics could happen in 2006 just as there are indications that biometrics is achieving greater public acceptance. Biometrics for access, be it borders or physical buildings, is accepted. The implementation varies based on need and technology used. These are high volume applications where the use of standards-based components has increasingly become the norm. And, biometrics for logical access is starting to achieve acceptance. However, its role over Open Networks has yet to be established.
The WAVE has discussed the notion of ambient biometrics and we saw the first serious examples of this at the Biometrics Consortium in the form of a suggested Identity Phone and smart cards.
But, what is missing? There needs to be a clear solution to the eAuthentication problem, from levels 1 to 4 – be it with or without biometrics. Is there logical access with persistence? We were told that this is not yet on the radar of the standards process. And, what is especially missing is the integration of enterprise use in the standards and especially its own profile.