Computers Prove Weak At Faces
Even after a decade of research, scientists are still far away from producing a facial recognition system that could be used to identify criminals in airports or other public places.
The International Biometric Group says the market for facial recognition systems will nonetheless double in the next year, up from $144 million this year. The overall market for biometrics systems is worth $1.2 billion this year.
San Jose State University biometrics researcher James Wayman says the systems on the market now are “low-hanging fruit” because they are used in controlled settings, where computers examine close-up images of employees or others who need access and compare those images to high-resolution images on file.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), meanwhile, wants to see facial recognition systems used in public places where lighting is not always good, features can be covered by glasses or beards, and images are sometimes taken a long distance.
NIST recently announced a challenge to biometrics research groups to produce a system that would accurately identify people 98 percent of the time in such circumstances, and has drawn about 46 companies and universities to participate in the challenge.
According to tests done earlier this year, NIST says other biometric identification systems such as fingerprinting are still much more accurate than facial recognition, though they are not discreet enough to capture some hard-core criminals. “When you’re dealing with a terrorist, you might not have a fingerprint or even a clear photograph. All you might have is a grainy image taken from a distance,” says consultant Amanda Goltz.
Takeo Kanade, the director of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University and a facial recognition researcher, says it could be 10 to 30 years before computers are as effective as humans at facial recognition.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Baltimore Sun (09/27/04); O’Brien, Dennis .