New book on how biometrics age

Book Review: Age Factors in Biometric Processing (M2SYS Blog)

Mr. Fairhurst assembles his book into four primary sections:

1.) An introduction to the aging process and an overview of biometric systems – setting the stage for discussion on how aging can effect individual biometric modalities
2.) A study of how aging effects specific biometric modalities including physiological and behavioral modalities
3.) A closer look at the topic of aging from the perspective of an industrial viewpoint, a forensics perspective, and the impact of aging on one of the more popular biometric modalities – facial recognition
4.) A look to the future and based on the conclusions of this book, what type and the scope of research that may be needed in the future

Innovations in Biometrics for Consumer Electronics

Frost & Sullivan: Integration of Biometrics in Consumer Electronics a Fast-Emerging Trend (Yahoo)

[…]fingerprint recognition will remain the leading biometric technology used in consumer electronics due to its convenience, cost-efficiency and quick ROI. Iris recognition and multimodal biometrics will rapidly grow in the next three years due to their accuracy, although the high cost and large size of iris recognition systems may hinder widespread uptake. Voice and face recognition technologies likewise should find higher usage depending on the security requirement of the application.

More good insight at the link.

Let’s change the language of biometrics (Human Recognition Systems blog)
“The consumer market will not suit the current market leaders in the biometrics industry of today as they are geared towards direct sales to a limited number of large customers. The consumer market will demand innovation in small packages, readily integrated with existing technology and in a totally hassle-free format. It will require collaboration, an understanding of current technology convergence trends and most of all, a foolhardy bravery to go where no other company has gone before.”

We couldn’t agree more.

FIDO looking to bring Touch ID to Android in 6 months (IntoMobile) — All is proceeding as we have foreseen.

NIGERIA: Lagos Begins Biometric Verification Of Pensioners (PM News)

Biometric plan to track entry, exit of foreign visitors won’t be ready until 2015 (Newspaper Tree – El Paso, Texas)

M2SYS BLOG: Why Apple’s use of Fingerprint Biometrics is Boon to Industry, not the Modality

What will it take for iris ID to catch on?

Readying Iris Recognition for Prime Time (Bank INfo Security)

Federal researchers have reconfirmed the reliability of the iris as an authentication factor. But we’re at least three years away from using iris scanning as an advanced method of user authentication for IT systems.

What’s holding back iris recognition as an authentication tool to access information on IT systems? Several experts I spoke with this week narrowed the reasons to three: size, cost and culture.

Stay tuned on all three. Size and cost are coming down. Culture is less predictable. Could ROI be a useful proxy? The article gets to this question eventually. Read the whole thing.

Following Mayor Bloomberg’s remark that public housing should incorporate fingerprinting technology and rumors of Apple implementing this technology for the new iPhones, two experts discussed the state of biometric security and where we are headed with it. (PIX 11)

There’s a good video at the link. I removed the video from this post because of the annoying auto-play feature which comes with the embed code. The video at the link above does not autoplay.

UPDATE: An interesting take on the political part of the story that echoes our Technology-and-Policy theme… Bloomberg is Right and Wrong About Fingerprinting Public Housing Residents (Frontpage Mag)

Good news for iris biometrics

Notice: Link goes to a 22 MB pdf…

IREX VI – Temporal Stability of Iris Recognition Accuracy (United States National Institute of Standards and Technology – NIST)

Using two large operational datasets, we find no evidence of a widespread iris ageing effect. Specifically, the population statistics (mean and variance) are constant over periods of up to nine years. This is consistent with the ability to enroll most individuals and see no degradation in overall recognition accuracy. Furthermore, we compute an ageing rate for how quickly recognition degrades with changes in the iris anatomy; this estimate suggests that iris recognition of average individuals will remain viable over decades.

There’s a whole lot of technical detail in the full report.

The executive summary continues on to say…

However, given the large population sizes, we identify a small percentage of individuals whose recognition scores do degrade consistent with disease or an ageing effect. These results are confined to adult populations. Additionally, we show that the template ageing reported in the Notre Dame studies is largely due to systematic dilation change over the collection period. Pupil dilation varies under environmental and several biological influences, with variations occuring on timescales ranging from below one second up to several decades. Our data suggests that the natural constriction of pupil size over decades does not necessitate re-enrollment of a well enrolled iris.

Face veins

ID got you, under the skin (

Ayan Seal and colleagues have developed a computer algorithm that can analyze the minutiae of the blood vessels revealed by an infra-red scan of a person’s face. The thermogram readily reveals the pattern of blood vessels almost down to the smallest capillary with an accuracy of more than 97%. Such a degree of precision would suffice even for high-security applications provided the thermogram scan was tied to second or third forms of identity, such as photo ID, security card, PIN number etc.

A biometric modality depending of the vasculation of the face is an interesting idea because unlike most novel biometric modalities, face biometrics and vascular biometrics are fairly well understood.

Voice Recognition Capabilities At The FBI

Hirotaka Nakasone, Senior Scientist, FBI Voice Recognition Program, examines the use and effectiveness of current speaker authentication technologies at the FBI. In this IDGA exclusive, Nakasone also highlights the various challenges that are unique to voice recognition, and discusses what plans are in place for capturing voice recordings in line with the FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI project).

Definitely worth checking out.

Since heartbeat biometrics are in the news again…

Heartbeats Could Replace Passwords (NPR Boston)

Instead of memorizing all those passwords, what if the key to unlocking everything could be linked to something unique about you — like the rhythm of your heart?

That’s what biometric researchers in Toronto have come up with.

For reasons that are both scientific (research based) and economic (market based), the road to commercialization of any new biometric modality is steep.

And as we discussed last year, the electrical properties of a human heartbeat may not have the characteristics that make success likely.

Seeing a lot more about finger veins lately…

Poland’s Getin Bank deploys Hitachi finger vein biometric tech in branches

Nowadays, biometrics is considered to be the best method of authentication in the banking sector with a wide range of applications, including at ATMs, branches and internet banking payments. “Within the framework of Getin Up project we want to offer our customers the package of technical innovations that will facilitate them day-by-day using of banking services. Our long-term objective is to implement biometrics in all bank branches.” – said Karol Karolkiewicz, member of the Management Board of Getin Noble Bank.

Biometric technology is used to authenticate a person based on unique human physical or behavioural characteristics such as iris, fingerprint, voice or finger vein patterns. Getin Bank chose finger vein biometrics based on it being safe and secure via the use of the unique structure of blood vessels inside fingers.

A quick education into voice biometrics

Voice Biometrics detects 98% of fraudulent calls (IT Wire)

Traditionally ID verification is all about two or more things – something you know (knowledge factor), something you have (possession factor) and something the user is (biometric factor).

VB [ed. Voice Biometrics] is one of the strongest and most convenient of these three, with a few seconds of natural speech removing the need for pin numbers, date of birth, mother’s maiden name and so on. All of which are increasingly easy to get hold of from social media sources and targeted malware stealing pins and passwords.

Read the whole thing. Voice biometrics seem to be improving rapidly and there is a huge installed base of networked hardware — land line phones — for which voice is the only biometric option.

Biometrics: A New Intelligence Discipline

New technological choices bring challenges (C4ISR Journal)

The intelligence community is pushing to make biometrically enabled intelligence — the art of identifying people by fingerprints, digital mugshots, iris scans or DNA — a regular part of business.

But other technologies are coming online. Facial recognition algorithms could someday riffle through mugshot databases to find matches much as fingerprint algorithms do today. Iris-matching technology is another field under development. Authorities around the world are rapidly switching from fingerprints to iris scans for verifying the identities of travelers and workers, and iris databases are growing. And some biometrics experts are aiming for multimodal biometrics in which fingerprint matches would be combined with facial recognition and other measurements to determine someone’s identity with maximum confidence.

Read the whole thing.

Why some might prefer finger vein to fingerprint

‘Finger vein recognition system’ promises security (Times of India)

[…C]opying and hacking fingerprints to breach security can be stopped by mapping people’s veins to verify their identity. This model can be used to make up for errors and loopholes in the biometric system, where finger prints can be copied easily.

“Using the blueprint of our veins, areas like credit card security and other time attendance systems can be strengthened.

Even shorter answer: there’s no latency.

Market forecasts for Face, Hand Geometry modalities

Facial biometrics sector to total $2.9 billion by 2018 (Companies and Markets)

The facial biometrics market has been forecast to reach a total value of US$2.9 billion by 2018, primarily driven by growing security concerns against the backdrop of increasing terrorist attacks, racial and ethnic disturbances, campus violence, random shootouts, riots, burglary, and physical assaults.

Hand geometry industry to be worth $152 million by 2018 (Companies and Markets)

The hand geometry industry has been forecast to achieve a market value of US$151.5 million by 2018, primarily driven by the well established use of the technology in physical access control, time and attendance, point-of-scale, and interactive kiosks.

More at the links.

The challenges confronting any new biometric modality

[ed. This post reflects a substantial rewrite of an earlier post of January 24, 2013: Not the bee’s knees]

Every once in a while a version of the following paragraph finds itself in the news…

Biometrics Using Internal Body Parts: Knobbly Knees in Competition With Fingerprints (Science Daily)

Forget digital fingerprints, iris recognition and voice identification, the next big thing in biometrics could be your knobbly knees. Just as a fingerprints and other body parts are unique to us as individuals and so can be used to prove who we are, so too are our kneecaps. Computer scientist Lior Shamir of Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan, has now demonstrated how a knee scan could be used to single us out.

Forget digital fingerprints, iris recognition and voice identification, the next big thing in biometrics could be your ______________.

Examples are numerous and fecund:

Bone structure or electric conductivity?
Nose? (ed. Link added later. I forgot about that one.)
Body odor?
Brain prints?
Lip movements?

While I suspect that any definable aspect of the human anatomy could be used as a biometric identifier — in instances where teeth are all that is known about an individual, they are used for high confidence identification — I’m afraid that, for the foreseeable future, the cards are stacked against any new biometric modality catching on in any big way.

The reasons for this are both scientific (research based) and economic (market based).

On the science side, a good biometric modality must be: unique, durable, and easily measurable. If any of these are missing, widespread use for ID management isn’t in the cards. If something is unique and durable but isn’t easily measurable, it can still be useful but it isn’t going to become ubiquitous in automated (or semi-automated) technology. Teeth and DNA fit this model. Teeth have been used to determine the identity of dead bodies with a high degree of certainty for a long time, but we aren’t going to be biting any sensors to get into our computers any time soon — or ever. Likewise with DNA.

There is also the challenge of proving that a modality is in fact unique, durable and easily measurable which requires a whole lot of experimental data and (especially regarding uniqueness) a healthy dose of statistical analysis. I’m no statistician, and from what I understand, the statistical rules for proving biometric uniqueness aren’t fully developed yet anyway, so let’s just leave things in layman’s terms and say that if you’re wanting to invent a new biometric modality and someone asks you how big a data set of samples of the relevant body part you need, your best answer is “how many can you get me?”

In order to ascertain uniqueness you need samples from as many different people as you can get. For durability you need biometric samples for the same person taken over a period of time and multiplied by a lot of people.

Ease of measure is more experiential and will be discovered during the experimentation process. The scientists charged with collecting the samples from real people will quickly get a feel for the likelihood that people would adapt to a given ID protocol.

For two common biometric modalities, face and fingerprint, huge data repositories have existed since well before there was any such thing as a biometric algorithm. Jails (among others) had been collecting this information for a hundred years and the nature of the jail business means you’ll get several samples from the same subject often enough to test durability, too, over their criminal life. For face, other records such as school year books exist and were readily available to researchers who sought to test the uniqueness and durability of the human face.

The first hurdle for a novel biometric modality is the competition for the attention of scientists and researchers. Getting the attention of science and technology journalists by making a pronouncement that the space between the shoulder blades is the next big thing in biometrics is one thing. Getting academic peers to dedicate the time and research dollars to building the huge database of interscapular scans required for algorithm development is quite another. Any new modality has to offer out-sized advantages over established modaities in order to justify the R&D outlay required to “catch up”. This is highly unlikely.

On the market side, in order to displace established (finger/hand and face/eye) biometric modalities in wide scale deployments, the academic work must be complete and the new technology must produce a return on investment (ROI) in excess of that offered by existing technologies designed to accomplish the same function.

That’s not to say that modalities that didn’t have the advantage of a 100 year head start on data collection are impossible to bring to market. Iris, voice, and the vascular biometrics of the hand (palm, finger) have joined face and fingerprint biometrics in achieving commercial viability despite the lack of historic data repositories. But there were several things recommending them. They either occupy prime real estate on the head and the end of the arm (Iris, vein) making them easy to get at, or they are the only biometric that can be used over a ubiquitous infrastructure that simply isn’t going anywhere (voice/phone), or they offer advantages over similar established modalities. With hand vascular biometrics: they’re harder to spoof than fingerprints; no latency; avoidance of the “fingerprinting = criminality” stigma; can work with gloves; users can avoid touching the sensor, etc. With iris: harder to copy than the face; harder to spoof; easier to measure than retina vasculation; and extremely low/no latency. Yet even despite gaining the required academic attention, iris and voice have had great difficulty overcoming the market (ROI) hurdle, which brings us back to knees.

Is there any database of kneecaps of significant size to allow researchers to skip the time-consuming task of building such a database themselves reducing the cost of development? Is there any deeply embedded ubiquitous infrastructure that is already an ideally suited knee-sensor? Is there any objection to modalities that have a head start on knees that knee biometrics would overcome? Is there any conceivable, repeatable, scalable deployment where a potential end user could save a whole lot of money by being able to identify people by their knees? I’m at a loss but these are exactly the kind of questions any new biometric modality must be able to answer in the affirmative in order to have any hope for wide-scale deployment.

So, it’s pretty clear that knee biometrics are not something the average person will ever come into contact. Does that mean there is no value in exploring the idea of the kneecap as a feature of the human anatomy capable of being used to uniquely identify an individual? Not necessarily.

In order to thrive as high value-added tools in highly specialized deployments a novel modality just needs to help solve a high value problem. This has heretofore been the case with teeth & DNA. The analysis of teeth and DNA is expensive, slow, requires expert interpretation, and is difficult to completely automate, but has been around for a long, long time and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. That’s because the number of instances where teeth and DNA are the only pieces of identifying information available are frequent enough, the value of making the identification is high enough, and the confidence level of the identification is high enough that people are willing to bear the costs associated with the analysis of teeth and DNA.

Beyond teeth and DNA, any biometric modality can be useful, especially when it is the only piece if information available. The CIA and FBI even invented a completely novel biometric approach in an attempt to link Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to the murder of Daniel Pearl using arm veins. But how likely is something like that ever to be the case for any of these novel modalities, knees included? It’s possible that the situation could arise where a knee bone is discovered and there is an existing x-ray or MRI of a known person’s knee and a comparison would be useful. That, however, is not enough to make anyone forget about any already-deployed biometric modality.

NIST seeks to refine standards for oral biometric modalities, among others

NIST Biometric Workshop Studies Voice, Dental, Oral Standards (Press Release via Thomas Net)

A working group of international dental and forensic experts has developed a draft dental and oral biometric data record that would ease identification of bodies in disasters such as an airplane crash. For instance, if bodies are burned beyond recognition, photographs or fingerprints might not offer practical means of identification; in such instances, forensic analysts turn next to dental and oral information. Developing this standard was challenging due to the variety of ways dentists around the keep dental records, but could offer an interoperable mechanism to exchange such information in the future.

“Oral” measurements and images include attributes such as lip prints and soft palate impressions. Lip prints can sometimes be linked to specific persons and may be found on objects at crime scenes.

The proposed Dental and Oral Supplement would enable the exchange of images and descriptions of pattern injuries on persons, some of which may resemble bite marks, and to allow transmission of imagery such as X-rays and sonograms.

The workshop also will collect information to develop recommended best practices for identifying disaster victims. A panel will discuss the use of various biometric data in identifying victims, including DNA, facial characteristics, tattoos, dental records and fingerprints. This project is in conjunction with the international Scientific Working Group for Disaster Victim Identification

More at the link above.