Video of gait analysis in action

This Security Solution Says It Can Figure Out If You Are Safe Or Dangerous By Scanning Your Skeleton (Business Insider – Australia)

They’re using a standard 2D surveillance camera to analyse a person’s motions and create a “skeletal map,” which shows the distance between joints and how they move. By comparing this map with future scans, Extreme Reality can detect any differences in movements that might indicate signs of stress and red flags. The system uses complex algorithms to detect these differences, and according to Extreme Reality, it is more than 90% accurate.

See for yourself…

I’m thinking of a number…

Affordable brainwave sensors could make typed passwords obsolete (The Verge)

The last hurdle involved determining what specific mental tasks would be best-suited to this type of authentication — the team wanted the interaction to be as user-friendly as possible. To find the most suitable tasks, the team the brainwaves of test subjects performing seven different mental activities to authenticate their identify. Researched showed that the best tasks for this setup were ones that users didn’t mind repeating on a daily basis — the tasks need to be easy, but not too boring.

Interesting sort of behavioral biometric of the brain.

UPDATE II: Remotely-Staffed US-Mexico Border Crossings

FEB. 9, 2012: Self-service U.S.-Mexican border crossing could be replicated (NextGov)

Under the agency’s plan, people carrying passports or other citizenship documents embedded with computer chips will approach kiosks to enter the United States. The kiosks will be mounted with digital scanners connected to a staffed entry point in El Paso, Texas, where CBP officers will see them through one-way video cameras and check their IDs. When near the scanner, the microchip, a radio frequency identification transmitter, signals a remote database to draw up biographical records and a photo of the document-holder. Officers then can confirm that the person in the database is the person on the camera.

AUG. 6, 2012
UPDATE:It looks like they’re installing something along these lines in Nogales, Arizona.

Avatar Officer Installed at Arizona-Mexico Border Station (Yahoo)

[Customs and Border Protection] CBP is actually installing an updated version of the University of Arizona’s kiosk—the original was tested at the station from December to March—to determine its ability to help enroll applicants in its Trusted Traveler programs at the Mexican border. The programs, also available for airline passengers, were created after 9/11 at various ports of entry into the U.S. to expedite preapproved, low-risk travelers through dedicated lanes and kiosks. All Trusted Traveler applicants must voluntarily undergo a background check against criminal, law-enforcement, customs, immigration, agriculture and terrorist databases. The process also includes biometric fingerprint checks and an interview with a CBP officer.

In Nogales, human CBP officers monitor the avatar-administered pilot-test interviews, which provide them with automated feedback uploaded wirelessly to an iPad tablet that these officers can use to conduct follow-up interviews.

AUG. 15, 2012
UPDATE II:
This robot border officer knows when you lie (Channel 3000)

Applicants for the program must undergo an interview and biometric fingerprinting to be eligible for the program — both of which can be performed by the AVATAR kiosk.

Derrick said the kiosk could process travelers in five minutes.

Travelers simply stand in front of the unit — which “looks like an ATM on steroids,” according to Derrick — and respond to yes/no questions asked in Spanish or English. “You speak to it like you speak to a person,” he said.

Their answers are monitored, with any unusual physiological responses passed on to “a human field agent” who then subjects them to “a more careful interview process,” said CBP spokesman Bill Brooks.

Unusual responses were not a sure sign of a lie, said Derrick. “There might be valid reasons for it beyond deception.”

The computer uses three sensors to assess physiological responses: a microphone, which monitors vocal quality, pitch and frequency; an infrared camera, which looks at pupil dilation and where the eyes focus; and a high-definition camera recording facial expressions.

Much more at the link.

It looks like this is much more than a tele-presence or biometric document authentication app. If this article is accurate, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is actually piloting an automated deception detector in the field and has settled upon voice as the most important thing to measure.

A Visionary’s Perspective

The Chartered Institute for IT has published a wide ranging interview, Getting a facial, with Professor Maja Pantic, from Imperial College, London.

Prof. Pantic has been working on automatic facial behaviour analysis. This type of research, if successful, could lead to a revolution in the way humans interact with technologies devoted to security, entertainment, health and the control of local physical environments in homes and offices.

The interview is long, wide-ranging, and worth reading in it’s entirety.

I would, however, like to point out two passages that have great bearing on some of the themes we discuss regularly here.

Why computer science?

But with computers, it was something completely new; we just couldn’t predict where it would go. And we still don’t really know where it will go! At the time I started studying it was 1988 – it was the time before the internet – but I did like to play computer games and that was one of the reasons, for sure, that I looked into it. [ed. Emphasis added]

You never know where a new technology will lead, and those who fixate on a technology, as a thing in itself are missing something important. Technology only has meaning in what people do with it. The people who created the internet weren’t trying to kill the record labels, revolutionize the banking industry, globalize the world market for fraud, or destroy the Mom & Pop retail sector while passing the savings on to you. The internet, much less its creators, didn’t do it. The people it empowered did. 


Technologies empower people. Successful technologies tend to empower people to improve things. If a technology doesn’t lead to improvement, in the vast majority of cases it will fail to catch on and/or fall into disuse. In the slim minority of remaining cases (a successful “bad” technology) people tend to agree not to produce them or place extreme conditions on their production and or use i.e. chem-bio weapons, or CFC’s. There really aren’t many “bad” technologies that people actually have to worry about. 


It makes far more sense to worry about people using technologies that are, on balance, “good” to do bad things — a lesson the anti-biometrics crowd should internalize. Moreover, you don’t need high technology to do terrible things. The most terrible things that people have ever done to other people didn’t require a whole lot of technology. They just required people who wanted to do them.


The interview also contains this passage on the working relationship between people and IT…

The detection software allows us to try to predict how atypical the behaviour is of a particular person. This may be due to nervousness or it may be due to an attempt to cover something up.

It’s very pretentious to say we will have vision-based deception detection software, but what we can show are the first signs of atypical or nervous behaviour. The human observer who is monitoring a person can see their scores and review their case. It’s more of an aid to the human observer rather than a clear-cut deception detector. That’s the whole security part.

There’s a lot of human / computer interaction involved.

It’s not the tech; it’s the people. 


Technology like biometrics or behavioral analysis isn’t a robot overlord created to boss around people like security staff. It’s a tool designed to help inform their trained human judgement. This informs issues like planning for exceptions to the security rule: lost ID’s, missing biometrics, etc. Technology can’t be held responsible for anything. It can help people become more efficient, and inform their judgement, but it can’t do a job by itself.

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