Individual Biometrics -
Facial recognition analyzes the characteristics of a person's face images input through a digital video camera. It measures the overall facial structure, including distances between eyes, nose, mouth, and jaw edges. These measurements are retained in a database and used as a comparison when a user stands before the camera. This biometric has ben widely, and perhaps wildly, touted as a fantastic system for recognizing potential threats (whether terrorist, scam artist, or known criminal) but so far has been unproven in high-level usage. It is currently used in verification only systems with a good deal of success.
How it Works:
User faces the camera, standing about two feet from it. The system wil locate the user's face and perform matches against the claimed identity or the facial database. It is possible that the user may need to to move and reattempt the verification based on his facial position. The system usually comes to a decision in less than 5 seconds.
To prevent a fake face or mold from faking out the system, many systems now require the user to smile, blink, or otherwise move in a way that is human before verifying.
The development stage for facial recognition began in the late 1980s and commercially available systems were made available in the 1990s. While many people first heard about facial recognition after September 11th, 2001, football fans were introduced to it at the Super Bowl several months earlier.
Currently gaining support as a potential tool for averting terrorist crimes, facial recognition is already in use in many law enforcement areas. Software has also been developed for computer networks and automated bank tellers that use facial recognition for user verification purposes.
One of the strongest positive aspects of facial recognition is that it is non-intrusive. Verification or identification can be accomplished from two feet away or more, and without requiring the user to wait for long periods of time or do anything more than look at the camera.
That said, this non-intrusiveness is one of its drawbacks when it comes to public opinion. Many people have expressed concern over the potential use of facial recognition cameras placed inconspicuously around cities that would attmept to identify passers-by without their knowledge or consent. However, the inherent difficulties in making a positive identification (lighting requirements, facial position, etc.) are larger than most people realize, and seem to make this biometric a better choice for verification systems, rather than identification.