Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Zooming in on Facial Recognition -- Not Giving In

Methods and products are constantly improving.  We are never satisfied with the “good enough”, and consistently aim for the next version, the faster operating system, the smaller smartphone.  Why should biometrics such as facial recognition be any different?  No, they are not 100% infallible perfection now – but isn’t that what makes us work harder to improve them?

A study was published stating that Biometric Security Products are inherently fallible and therefore should not be relied upon for crime prevention and processing scenarios.  So that’s it? End the billions of dollars of research; eliminate the funding and release all of the programmers? That’s what the National Research Council would have us all believe.

If we take a step back and look objectively over our technological discoveries and creations over the past decades, haven’t they all improved periodically? Apple didn’t stop after version 1 of the iPod.  Intel still continues to introduce faster processors.  So why do the critics of biometrics feel this genre won’t improve as well?  And, as any security professional knows – security is about redundancy and layering of techniques; not simply relying on one security aspect to answer all concerns.  If we use them for that they are – one more piece of validation in a process that helps identify, track and manage issues – then they are one of the greatest innovations of the security landscape.

Each month the technology improves.  Now we can track biometrics of faces, veins, irises and even ears.  It would be a lot easier to walk through an entrance gate and be scanned while inputting a unique code (a layered approach) than it would to have manual intervention at every access point.  The potential is endless for what biometrics could do for police and security scenarios. 

Shopkeepers in London, for example, have integrated facial recognition into their CCTV cameras, so that they are instantly alerted if a repeat offender enters their establishment. This has cut down on the occurrence of theft that had been on the rise before the installation of the biometric capabilities. 

Some people worry about breach of privacy issues with this technology.  The purpose is not assert a” Big Brother” watchful eye over us.  The purpose is to use innovation to keep us safer and to rectify issues faster and with more confidence when situations to arise.  Why wouldn’t we all want what’s better?

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