Advancing the Science of Biometrics

Identifying individuals through facial recognition techniques

Stopping those trying to enter the U.S. through fraudulent passports or visas is a concern, not only to law enforcement agencies, but to many in the business and service sectors. Another very real concern is criminals who fraudulently try to obtain driver’s licenses and other forms of identification. Both of these issues are now being addressed through the deployment of a biometric technology known as face recognition and Noblis is at the forefront of research and technology in this field.

Face recognition measures the facial similarity between a query image and all other images in a computer database (e.g., a terrorist watch list). This automated search process uses complex algorithms to compare every image in the database and return an ordered set of facial images ranked by similarity. In turn, facial identification is performed between the query image and the returned set of highest-matching images. Facial identification is the manual examination of the differences and similarities between two facial images for the purpose of determining whether they represent different persons or the same person.

Two Paradigms in Face Recognition

The two general paradigms for applying automated face recognition technology in law enforcement, intelligence, and administrative applications are constrained and unconstrained face recognition. In constrained face recognition, images are captured in controlled environments where the subjects know that they are being photographed. Unconstrained face recognition involves matching images that were captured in open environments without the subjects’ explicit knowledge or cooperation.

Constrained face recognition procedures are typically used by organizations such as the Department of Motor Vehicles (which issues driver’s licenses and other photo IDs) and by the U.S. Department of State (which issues passport and visa documents). Because face recognition accuracy greatly improves when the facial pose, facial expression, and image illumination are fixed, constrained face recognition initiatives have had many successful outcomes.

Unconstrained face recognition, where there is no expectation for subject cooperation, is considered the next generation of face recognition technology. Unconstrained face recognition captures an image, often with a surveillance camera, in an active environment such as at a sporting event, in an airport, or at a political event. This paradigm is confounded by the fact that ideal facial images are extremely hard to capture when subjects are moving in a crowd. Despite the fact that surveillance video may be able to capture hundreds of frames of a subject’s face, there may only be one or two frames that are actually useable.

Although less reliable than constrained environments, unconstrained technologies have been successfully employed by law enforcement agencies. One recent example is that police used unconstrained face recognition technology in conjunction with closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras to identify culprits with criminal records who played a key role in the 2011 London riots.

Helping Customers Improve Their Biometric Systems Capabilities

Noblis’ has been a recognized leader in biometrics and identity management for many years. Our work is helping to improve the science behind face recognition and improve the matching capabilities of constrained and unconstrained face recognition. Our scientists and engineers also combine their expertise in emerging technologies and trends in order to anticipate the needs our customers. Our program management experts and IT and acquisition staff offer unparalleled support and guidance based on our knowledge of technology, public policy, and acquisition integrity measures.

Our successful track record of delivering innovative biometrics and identity management solutions and our ongoing efforts to advance face and iris recognition technology have earned us recognition in the international biometrics community. Noblis’ ability to deliver solid guidance, innovative solutions, and to ensure that critical systems provide the results that are intended has made us a proven and trusted partner to our biometrics customers.

Our work in keeping our nation safe through advanced biometrics is just one way that Noblis provides tomorrow’s solutions today.


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