"Facebook actually makes masks out of everyone’s faces." Artist Sterling Crispin creates DATA-MASKS as a way to physically present the abstract data structures that Facebook and biometric surveillance systems use to pull a face from a crowd.
As part of its effort to combat insurgent forces interspersed within an indigenous population, the use of biometrics has become a central component of the U.S. war effort. Having expanded heavily since its introduction during the war in Iraq, biometric identification and tracking of individuals has become a core mission in Afghanistan with initiatives sponsored by the U.S. and Afghan governments seeking to obtain the biometric identifiers of nearly everyone in the country. [more inside]
The biometrics hacking team of the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) has successfully bypassed the biometric security of Apple's TouchID using easy everyday means. [more inside]
Leafsnap is a free field guide for iPhone (Android coming soon) that uses the phone's camera and some biometric processing to identify trees by the shape of their leaves. Development was financed by the National Science Foundation (NYT article), and includes research by Columbia University, University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution.
"What the Mayfield case teaches about biometrics in general is that, no matter how accurate the technology used for screening, it is only as good as the system of administrative procedures in which it is embedded." The Economist outlines some of the problems with biometric passports. There are lots of them: "...biometric recognition is not only “inherently fallible”, but also in dire need of some fundamental research on the biological underpinnings of human distinctiveness." [more inside]
Police do it to the British public 24/7/365. It has become pervasive in the UK and shows little sign of changing. Apparently, however, Joe Blogs may find that his rights may be greatly compromised when photographing Police or even criminals. [more inside]
The Department of Homeland Security has expressed interest [PDFs] in forcing all commercial airline passengers to wear a taser bracelet that can be used to incapacitate anyone on an airline. This video, from the company that will produce the bracelets, explains how the bracelet would be put on the passenger at the point that they clear security, and would not be removed until they leave secure areas. It would take the place of boarding passes, carry personal and biometric information about the passengers, track and monitor every passenger via GPS and shock the wearer on command, immobilizing him or her for several minutes. DHS official, Paul S. Ruwaldt of the Science and Technology Directorate, office of Research and Development is also excited about the possiblility of using it as an interrogation tool at airports. Ah freedom, who knew it smelled like burning flesh?
NECs new biometric security cam will guess your age, gender, (and it would be nice if it could size you up according to how you dress).
NEC plans to market a system later this year that can derive someone's gender and age from images captured with a camera "The system compares the photo against a database of several thousand faces to figure gender and age based on such factors as facial shape and wrinkles. " According to Nikkei Weekly 01/28/2008 Edition. Link goes to Ubergizmo. "It's called FieldAnalyst and it's from NEC. The system homes in on faces of people who pass by the video camera. It then rapidly compares the image against samples in a database. It then spits out what it believes is your approximate age is and your gender." .."NEC scientists may next try to add clothing as a characteristic and classify people by whether they wear a suit or a T-shirt." more here
Cash, credit, or fingerprint? Biometrics are hot. Since we've already tired of our RFID credit cards, Wal-Mart and Costco are exploring fingerprint scanners as a means of payment in their stores. Pay by Touch, which has already installed its technology in various Cub Foods, bigg's, Piggly Wiggly, and Farm Fresh stores, is proud to change the way we all say "I am me". But didn't we already decide that sometimes fingerprints say "I am someone else"? [via]
An awkward resemblance to a certain eigenface might get you pulled aside in Las Vegas. Prof. Hilbert is probably spinning in his grave.
Buying biometrically into big brother? Privium is an IBM-backed pay service at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport that allows passengers to identify themselves by iris recognition and thus speed their way through security checks. This being the privacy-respecting Netherlands, the biometric information is not stored in a central database, but only on a card you carry with you; other countries may not be so enlightened. This could well become a standard form of identification. In the meantime, could the failure to buy this service qualify someone as a security or insurance risk?
After all the hoopla about increasing security, it seems that the requirement for biometric data to be included in passports of those entering the US from visa waiver countries will need to be extended for two years to allow other countries to catch up with the technology, as it seems most countries are unable to meet the deadline. Some countries have put on hold the new technology, while others seem committed to going ahead with it, despite doubts about the readiness of the technology. Of course, if civil liberties groups get their way, the biometric passports may never see the light of day. Specific religious issues complicate the matter to some extent, also. Given that, if the technology to produce biometric passports is available, will it really be that hard for forged passports to be created? Unless a massive world-wide database containing the biometric details of every person was used for data-matching, it is hard to see how these new measures will really make much difference to anyone apart from the companies selling the technology.
Biometric authentication system. Starship Enterprise? No, Kenworth. Their new T800 High-Tech Truck is loaded with security features for the long haul. Could airplane manufacturers learn a thing or two from the grand-daddy of big rigs?
Face Recognition ATMs In Australia, a tech company is developing face recognition ATMs, which operate on biometric technology (face, voice, and lip-movement). This technology could be an alternative to PINs. Is this idea really convenient or really freaky?
Debate over brain scans Over at the Register, one of their writers has gotten into a fantastic pissing contest with InfoSeek's founder over the issue of brain scans and airport security. What are your thoughts?
Whitehouse staffers des- er, I meant Kids love biometrics!