- GAITHERSBURG, Maryland --
Forget voice print matching and face recognition: Future technology could
identify someone by the way they walk.
- Pattern-recognition software soon will be able to analyze
the stride of a person, University of Maryland professor Larry Davis said
Thursday at the <http://www.nist.gov/itl/div895/isis/bc/bc2000/program%20test.htm
Biometric Consortium 2000 Conference co-sponsored by the <http://www.nsa.gov/
National Security Agency.
- Davis said his research group has created a prototype
that can filter out noise from a video image and recognize whether a person
is walking past the camera, even in windy or cloudy conditions.
- "We can now detect a person -- any person -- walking
in field of view outdoors with a moving camera," Davis told about
350 people who showed up at the two-day event also sponsored by the <http://www.nist.gov/ National Institute
of Standards and Technology and the <http://www.nist.gov/itl/div895/isis/bc/bc2000/army.htm
- Davis added that Daimler-Benz is planning to use the
technology to alert drivers to potential collisions.
- The next step: Distinguishing one person's gait from
another's, something Davis said his group will be able to do reliably enough
in the future to aid in "surveillance situations," even when
someone's face is not visible.
- By isolating what he called a "signature of human
motion," the technology could be used to perform bulk surveillance
in public areas, assuming that information about who walks in what way
is on file.
- Other new techniques could also be used by law enforcement
Visionics' FaceIt system works by isolating human faces in still pictures
and then comparing them to photos in a database containing a specific population,
such as licensed drivers, known criminals or missing children. The system
then ranks each photo in the database by likelihood that the two images,
when paired together, represent the same person.
- Visionics Vice President Paul Griffin said the system
is currently being used by the state of Virginia to search for duplicate
state ID cards and driver's licenses. He said that at least two other states
are testing the technology for their own use.
ANSER, a government-funded research institute, uses FaceIt as part of their
project to locate missing children on the Internet.
- ANSER spokesperson Joe Iseman said the algorithms are
still being trained to accommodate for factors such as aging, image resolution
and lighting variances in different photos.
- "But when you incorporate known variables such as
age, hair color, race, and gender into the search criteria, the chance
of getting a match is very high," Iseman said.
- Other uses for FaceIt technology -- while beneficial
for law enforcement -- are more problematic, privacy activists contend.
- The use of FaceIt in Newham, England, in closed-circuit
video surveillance systems of public outdoorareas, earned the town the
dubious distinction of a <http://www.privacyinternational.org/bigbrother/
Big Brother Award last year from the <http://www.privacyinternational.org
Privacy International group.
- Newham is a borough in East London that <http://www.newham.gov.uk/newhamnews/99news05may/safety.htm
has installed a face-recognition system that -- when coupled with over
200 cameras -- picks out known criminals, authorities say.
- Backers say the Newham system's purported benefits include
reducing area crime by 40 percent.
- "Biometric technology is definitely a double-edged
sword," said David Sobel, general counsel at the <http://www.epic.org
Electronic Privacy Information Center. "On the one hand, you have
these greattools for computer security and user authentication which will
enhance user privacy, but on the other you have the Newham situation. We'll
be monitoring this field's progress very closely."
- The U.S. government has invested heavily in biometrics
- Other technologies that were showcased at the conference
included a new system designed by <http://www.cybersign.com
CyberSign. CyberSign works by incorporating an electronic pen and pad system
into a common Windows-based PC. The user can attach unique, verifiable
and legally binding hand-written signatures to electronic documents.
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