In today’s security-conscious world, better access control-whether it’s a company restricting entry into its building or a government monitoring entry into a country-has become a priority. One solution gaining popularity is biometrics, systems that use specific biological traits such as fingerprints or facial features to identify individuals. Face recognition is an especially appealing technique, because capturing an image of the face is simple and nonintrusive. But using face recognition for applications such as border control can require querying a database of thousands to millions of photos, which is time consuming and raises privacy concerns.
To get around these problems, OmniPerception, a spinoff from the University of Surrey in England, has combined its facial-recognition technology with a smart-card system. This could make face recognition more robust and better suited to applications such as passport authentication and building access control, which, if they use biometrics at all, rely mainly on fingerprint verification, says David McIntosh, the company’s CEO. With OmniPerception’s technology, an image of a person’s face is verified against a “facial PIN” carried on the card, eliminating the need to search a central database and making the system less intimidating to privacy-conscious users.